Hundreds march in New Delhi for gay pride in Modi's India

Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:52am EST
 
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By Tony Tharakan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Hundreds of people danced, sang and cheered in a gay pride parade in India's capital on Sunday, the first since the country's top court reinstated a ban on gay sex in the world's largest democracy.

Multi-colored balloons, masquerade masks and wigs, a huge rainbow flag and a St. Bernard dog ushered in the seventh Delhi Queer Pride parade, with many shaking their hips to drum beats.

Participants chanting "Azaadi" (freedom) and shouting slogans such as "I'm gay, that's OK" carried banners and placards demanding their right to love.

"We are making a statement that we exist. We are not a minuscule minority. Deal with it," said Mohnish Kabir Malhotra, 27, a publicist and one of the organizers of this year's event.

In December, India's Supreme Court threw out a 2009 ruling by a lower court that had decriminalized gay sex, saying only parliament could repeal Section 377 of India's penal code which bans sex against the order of nature.

The British colonial-era law is widely interpreted to mean homosexual sex, and can be punished with up to 10 years in jail. Many choose to hide their sexuality for fear of discrimination.

Some participants said they had little faith that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government would revoke Section 377, despite having a majority in the lower house of parliament.

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Participants dance under a giant rainbow flag during Delhi Queer Pride Parade, an event promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, in New Delhi November 30, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi