In a country where homosexuality was banned again only last December by the Supreme Court, having been decriminalised in 2009, hundreds marched in a Pride Parade yesterday (Sunday 30th November) and it passed off peacefully.
The marchers were carrying flags and banners, and shouting “I’m gay, that’s ok”, and “Freedom” (Azaadi), and were also dancing and singing along the route.
The ban on gay sex has been in place since 1860, under section 377 of the Penal Code, a relic of colonial rule by the British. In 2009, the Delhi Hight Court had ruled that the ban on gay sex went against fundamental rights protected by the Indian constitution. However, last December, the Supreme Court overturned this ruling, stating that only the government could decriminalise gay sex by removing section 377, a section which could potentially see homosexuals get life in prison, or up to ten years and a fine. However, this does not appear to have been enforced so far.
The movement to repeal the law in 2009 was led by the NAZ Foundation, which had acted as petitioner in the New Delhi High Court Case, and which also works to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in India. It is funded by, among others, the Standard Chartered Bank and Levi Strauss.