Rainbow Pride Parade 2015: Walking with Love and Solidarity
The movement for equal rights for people of diverse gender, gender expressions and sexual identities has seen some very contrasting developments in the past couple of years in India. The historic judgment by the Delhi High Court on 2 July 2009 held that treating consensual homosexual sex between adults as a crime is a violation of fundamental rights protected by India’s Constitution. The verdict resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts involving consenting adults, in the jurisdiction of the Delhi High court. This verdict was later overturned by the Supreme Court of India on 12 December 2013, with the Court holding that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary. The legal battle for equal rights of all citizens immaterial to their sexual orientation, suffered a definite setback with the judgment. Nevertheless the voices against such discrimination became stronger than ever. The same apex court, in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India case, delivered a landmark judgment affirming that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people, and gave them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or third-gender. On April 24, 2015, the Rajya Sabha passed The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, moved by Tiruchi Shiva, calling for equal rights and reservation to transgender individuals and envisaging creation of a national commission and state level commissions for transgender communities. The Indian government is also reportedly preparing a bill to this end. Several other developments in 2015 were positive in advancing the cause of equal rights, including the formation of a Transgender Welfare Board in West Bengal. While the constitution of the board in West Bengal has seen some controversies regarding ample representation from all different sections of the society, overall it has been hailed as a positive step in the direction of recognition and protection of minority rights. It may be worthwhile to mention that such boards already existed in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu since 2014.
While the LGBTQIA movement continues to make headlines and definitely moves towards becoming a more often discussed issue amongst the common people in the recent times, the nation overall, seems to have had taken a few steps back in terms of safety, personal liberty and minority rights. What with reported incidents of rapes, lynching, murders, public harassments causing major public outcry or some of the very recent public debates over reports of caste based violence, bans on cow slaughter, growing incidents of intolerance and violence it seems like the nation may just be geared towards a regressive step towards monitoring and controlling of personal spaces, morals and choices by the state. Such a regressive stance, if taken, would definitely be a disgrace for any free democratic country and its citizens. Most importantly state control over personal liberty and choice might foretell a rather bleak future for any kind of democratic space, minority rights and equal human rights for everyone.
It is high time that we moved to dismantle the outdated patriarchal structures that perpetuate so much hate and exclusion, and put an end to the culture of discrimination and violence that it seems to perpetuate. It is time that we begin to respect and stand up for the individual’s freedom to choose to live a life of dignity, of safety and respect. To love how and whom we wish. It is high time that we dismantled patriarchal gender and sexual norms or archaic and classist social systems to move towards a just social structure. It’s high time that we strongly asserted that these archaic and exclusionary social norms cannot be used against anyone to deny them basic freedoms and human rights or to perpetuate violence upon them.
What is the Walk about?
It is with the backdrop discussed above that the 14th Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk, the oldest Pride Walk of India, intends to make a political statement for Equality, Tolerance, Love and Solidarity. We want to walk for strengthening the voice for equality for all – irrespective of gender, sexuality, caste, class, religion, etc. We want to walk in solidarity with all rights based movements, Child Rights, Women’s rights, Dalit rights, Rights of the Disabled/differently-abled, students groups, and others. We also vehemently protest the increasing atmosphere of moral policing and the restrictive approach of the establishment towards any “un-sanctioned” behaviour. This moral policing is being increasingly used to stigmatize and discriminate against minority groups of all kinds.
We walk to strengthen the fights, large and small, being waged across the nation for freedoms, equality, dignity and rights. We salute all those, whichever fight they may have been a part of, who dare to swim against the tide to do their hearts’ bidding, who put up with extreme odds facing violence, stigma and social ostracism never compromising their identities. We share the dream of these path breakers of a future marked by inclusiveness and tolerance. We walk to celebrate and respect the diversity of our genders and sexualities, of our classes, castes, creeds, communities and abilities. We walk to safeguard our Fundamental and Human Rights as citizens of India. We walk to safeguard our freedom of expression and for protection against repression, moral policing, and violence.
We walk in protest, we walk in solidarity, we walk in celebration and we walk with faith in humanity! We invite all free thinking individuals, groups and entities to join us for the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk. Let us stand in solidarity against discrimination, exclusion, and violence.
Date and starting time: December 13, 2015, 2 pm
Route: Starting point: College Square; End point: Esplanade Metro Channel. There will be a short public meeting and cultural performances at the end point.
Nefer is a long time activist.