Cityís LGBTI community raises voice against Supreme Court order
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Five days after the Supreme Court criminalised same-sex intercourse, the city's LGBTI community staged its first protest in Matunga on Sunday afternoon. Close to a thousand supporters assembled at Maheshwari Udyan between on Sunday afternoon, organisers said.
The Humsafar Trust had initially planned a protest march on the day of verdict itself, but did not receive permission from the police, neither in Santacruz East, nor at Azad Maidan.
Sunday's protest though, went off peacefully, barring a few minor hitches. "We had applied for police permission at the last minute on Saturday but did not receive permission from the BMC to use the garden at 3 pm. Since it opens to the public at 4 pm, we were only allowed to enter then, though we had been waiting there for an hour," said Pallav Patankar, the Trust's Director for HIV Programmes.
While some protesters wore black, the mood was upbeat, with several groups raising slogans and singing. The rainbow flag, which has become the most identifiable symbol of the equal rights movement in India, was as visible on cloth as it was on the faces of protesters. Most chose to hold hands, bringing traffic to a halt on several occasions.
The protesters dispelled fears that the SC's verdict would deter youngsters from coming out. "It was refreshing to see that only two or three people were wearing masks. Everyone else had their faces uncovered," said Shobhna Kumar, founder of publishing house Queer Ink.
Patankar added that the attendance at the protest far exceeded expectations. "We had been expecting 200-300 people and the police had made their law and order preparations accordingly. We thought that a lot of people may not come on a Sunday afternoon. We thought youngsters would be shy, but the turnout was surprising and a little overwhelming," he said.