New Delhi: With happy faces and bodies swaying to drum beats, rainbow revellers took over the heart of Delhi and celebrated 'pride' and their newfound independence, two months after the Supreme Court quashed a colonial-era law that criminalised homosexuality.
At the 11th edition of Delhi Queer Pride Parade, thousands walked from Barakhamba Road to Tolstoy Marg on the warm Sunday afternoon, spreading cheer and colour.
The pride parade was the first one after the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality by quashing the draconian Section 377 on September 6.
The parade celebrated the identity and sexuality of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies as they walked with a renewed purpose to work towards the goals of a stronger community.
Wrapped in gauze bandages from head to toe, Sumit, who identifies as a girl, expressed her gratitude towards the apex court's decision, but also said that "for bigger changes you also have to wait longer".
"I am very thankful to the judges, I never expected it to happen in my life, but it did. I am very glad. For more changes you have to wait, a big change will take time. Nothing changes in a second. You make some efforts, you take some time," she said.
Explaining the symbolism of the bandages, she said there she had still a lot to explore as a person and "come out in the open, and want to live my life as I want to, not as people want me to".
Stacy, a Taiwanese woman working in Delhi for the last six years, compared the LGBT situation in India to back home where a majority voted against same-sex marriage in a referendum on Saturday.
"Last year, a high court in Taiwan said that everyone should have the right to marry anyone they choose. It was a success. But this year, with the referendum it's another setback.
"It is somewhat like India, first the 2009 verdict, then repealed it in 2013 and then passed again this year. They have kind of similar situations in Taiwan and India," she said.
She added that the people in Taiwan still don't want to recognise LGBT people as humans.
"With the setback and the discrimination there is no difference between India and Taiwan. They still think you don't deserve the same rights as they do. They are like 'ok, if you are here, but I don't agree you are the same human being. Or I agree you are a human being, but I don't agree you deserve the same rights'," the Taiwanese national told PTI.
The Delhi leg of the pride parade is organised every last Sunday of November since 2008 by the Delhi Queer Pride Committee.
"Our pride is a struggle not just to be free and to love at the level of individuals, but to build love as the only force capable of bringing about our collective liberation," the members said in a statement.
After the Section 377 verdict the community is now reaching out for a hate crime legislation to recognise all forms of anti-minority violence as punishable offenses.
Ishaan Sethi, an LGBT rights activist and founder of Delta, an LGBT dating app, said that the "parade is a celebration of equality and diversity".
"Pride is a celebration of our identities and to be visible as a community. It is a celebration of equality and diversity. This year is especially important because it is also a time to reflect on the past and honour and remember those who have fought this battle for equality and helped us reach where we are today," Sethi said.
The committee also demanded repeal of the Karnataka Police Act 36A and Hyderabad Eunuch Act, anti-beggary, anti-Hijra laws, sedition laws, UAPA, AFSPA and removal of the marital rape exception from rape laws.
While the victory in the name of Section 377 will remain significant, another member of the LGBT+ community, Bobby, a male escort, woefully said that the people still have to go a long way and the parade is just one way of being seen as equal in the society.
"There are no changes in the society towards us, those who don't know still look at us in disgust. And those who do know, they simply don't want to understand. The parade is just another mean to sensitise people about us, that more and more people come to know about us," he said.