Pune: “Atta nahi tar mag kadhi? 377 badla aadhi” (If not now, then when? change 377) was the slogan prominently taken up this year in the LGBTI pride rally on Sunday in the city. The supporters, activist and people from LGBTI community want the Supreme Court (SC) to reinterpret its decision on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises consenting adults in same-sex relationships.
The rally was organised by ‘Samapathik trust’, men’s sexual health organisation, for the eighth consecutive year. The theme this year is ‘Queer-Post Box’. Around 800 people including, lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI), supporters and activists walked from Sambhaji Garden via Jangli Maharaj Road, turned to Fergusson College Road and again back to Sambhaji Garden.
Ahead of the walk, Bindumadhav Khire, President of Samapathik Trust, said, “The rally is mainly organised to celebrate the existence of the people of LGBTI community. Also, the people in the community are eagerly waiting for the SC to reinterpret the decision of Section 377 of the IPC to stop criminalising consenting adults in same-sex relationships.”
Slogans like ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia has to go’, and ‘Prem mhanje prem asta, tumcha amcha same asta’ (love is love; whether it’s yours or mine, it’s the same), “I am gay, that’s ok! I am lesbian, that’s ok!” were the slogans repeatedly taken in the rally.
The rally witnessed people not only from the country but also from western countries. Venkatesh, an activist of LGBTI from Kolkata, said, “Love has no gender. This is the message, which should be understood by the people in the society first. Also the law under section 377 should change and we are eagerly waiting for it since last several years.”
Harsh, another person from LGBTI community from the city, said, “We are progressing in every field, then why our mindsets are not getting progressed.”
Vidya Bal, founder member and advisor of Nari Samata Manch, said, “Given the fact that our constitution is still not feasible to support the LGBTI community, but the people from the community are causing no harm to anyone. They just need love for which they are fighting.”
Ramesh Avasthi, founder of MASUM, an NGO, said, “Through such community rallies, the mindset of people will likely change. Nowadays, families have also started accepting the third gender people. Also, the third gender is also accepted in workplaces. At least, the situation in urban areas on the third gender is getting better, but the situation in rural areas is worse.”
The rally also witnessed NGOs including Milun Saryajani, Stri Mukti Sanghatana, MASUM, Nari Samata Manch, Tathapi Trust, Samyak Trust, Gay Bombay, Connecting NGO amongst others. Representatives from corporate giants, including Thoughtworks, BMYMellon, Symantec, Kirloskar Cummins and ADP, were also present.