Police ban Mumbai queer Pride march to stop demonstrators discussing politics

Mumbai LGBT+ Queer pride

Police in Mumbai have banned the city’s annual Pride march, fearing the queer people in attendance will discuss politics.

Queer Azaadi Mumbai has organised the Pride parade every year since 2008, but on Wednesday January 29 police revoked permission for the parade to take place on February 1.

The organisers posted a picture of a letter from the police on Twitter which, according to the Deccan Herald, said that the police suspected demonstrators might shout anti-government slogans and protest the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The CAA was created by the India’s majority political party, the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, and it was passed in December 2019.

It aims to expedite Indian citizenship for those fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

However the act only names Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, and does not extend protections to Muslims. It has been criticised by a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “fundamentally discriminatory”.

The act is also tied to the introduction of a National Register of Citizens (NRC), which the government plans to implement for the entire country by 2021.

People will have to prove their citizenship to be included on the database. In August 2019, a list was published for the state of Assam in which 1.9 million residents were left off the list, putting their citizenship at risk.

Many insist that the combination of the CAA and the NRC will prevent Muslims from claiming Indian citizenship, and there have been widespread protests.

But LGBT+ activists say that they will also be severely affected by the legislation.

Harish Iyer, a Mumbai equal rights campaigner and drag artist, wrote on Twitter: “We all are a mixture of identities. Queer is just one of those. Moreover we live in a democracy.

“The NRC/CAA issue, for and against, is a queer rights issue. We don’t exist in the forefront or margins, we also exist in intersections. We don’t live isolated desolate lives.

“We live lives brimming with many truths. If one of our truths gets denied permission, we get denied permission. We want Pride. And Pride for all.”

Rituparna Borah, an LGBT+ activist, previously told Al Jazeera: “Queer people are either disowned by their family or forced to leave homes. How would they acquire the documents that are necessary to prove citizenship?”

Vivek Azad, a trans man and activist, also told the Hindustan Times: “We are still fighting for our identity in this country and now we are being asked for papers to prove our citizenship.

“Some of my documents were burnt by my family after I had an altercation with them. How do I get those back?

“Those who left their homes, like me, are fighting for our basic rights and existence. And now we are being made to fight for our citizenship too.”