Newsletter Sep - Dec 2010

In 2010, the Delhi Queer Pride Committee decided to shift its annual pride from June end to the last  Sunday of November. In 2010 the Pride march was held on 28th November and started at 3 pm to make the most of the winter sun. To the beats of drums, slogan shouting, cheers and whistles we started marching from Barakhamba Road towards Jantar Mantar... almost 3500 of us who had come out with lovers, friends, colleagues, sibling and even and grandparents! Given that this was the first Pride March after the reading down of Sec 377 of IPC, the Pride Committee distributed lollypops, which as you can imagine, were a huge hit! At the end of the March, we sang and sloganeered, we lit candles and observed a 2 minute silence for those who have suffered in silence and ended with a huge round of applause!

This time too, the Delhi Queer Pride was entirely funded by queer and queer friendly people. We reproduce below the leaflet used on the occasion. In case anyone wants to join the pride committee, do

write to us And together we’ll all take over the city with pride again!

Delhi Queer Pride 2010

On 28 November 2010, Delhi will celebrate its Third Queer Pride Parade! A large number of queer people, along with the ‘straight but not narrow’ allies of the queer community, will come together to celebrate the dignity and rights of sexually marginalised people all across India and the world. But we will not just be celebrating. We will also protest against the discrimination faced by queers and make a statement of our hope for a world where all people live with freedom, dignity and respect. This year we also march with a feather in our caps. On 2 July 2009 the Delhi High Court made a judgement decriminalising consensual adult same-sex sexual activity in private.

 what is “queer”? Originally, the word “queer” simply meant “odd” or “unusual”. In the past century, the word came to be used as a slur for anyone who isn’t gender normative or who deviates from society’s definition of sexually normal behaviour. Recently, however, people across the world have reclaimed the word “queer” to empower, celebrate and unite all those who may feel marginalized because of their diverse gender identities and sexualities.

Queerness is about celebrating our diversity no matter what we call ourselves. Among many other things, queer people can be gay, kothi, lesbian, queen, dyke, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, hijra, butch, panthi, femme, fairy, men who have sex with men, genderqueer, androgynous, asexual, questioning, bicurious or even heterosexual queers! Queer Pride affirms our diverse expressions and calls attention to our everyday struggle for respect and dignity. But even as we affirm all these labels, queerness is also about recognising and resisting the way fixed categories and preconceptions can hinder the human variety of love, desire, affection, and self-expression.

but why are we marching? Queer people in India face violence and discrimination from many different quarters. Lesbians are subject to violence, forced into marriage and even driven to commit suicide by their families. Gay men are blackmailed by organized scandals that often involve the police. Hijras regularly bear the brunt of brutal violence meted out to them by the police and others in public and private. Trans people do not have the medical and psychological services that they may need. Queer people who have built lives together are not allowed the same civil rights of property, adoption, and insurance benefits, among others, that heterosexual families take for granted. These are but a few examples.

The judgement to decriminalise Article 377 has been challenged in the Supreme Court and so the legal battle continues. Nonetheless the court’s recognition of our constitutional rights to life, liberty, dignity and respect is a victory that cannot be taken away from us. It is but one step in changing society, and we still have a long way to go. Keeping all this in mind, it is essential that –

- The government extend anti-discrimination laws to ensure that people are not discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity in workplaces, schools, and other public as well as private spaces

- The law forbid non-consensual surgical and psychiatric medical interventions to alter sex, gender or sexual orientation.

- The government allow people able to record the gender category of their choice in the national Census of India, Voter ID and all other government documents

- Legal action be taken against policemen and others who commit violence against queers.

- The government replicate in other parts of the country efforts such as the Aravani Welfare Board, which the Tamil Nadu Government set up for the hijra community.

- All persons be allowed to exercise their right to live their lives with dignity and freedom, regardless of their gender and sexuality identities.

It Is Also Important That We Celebrate

- The Delhi High Court victory reading down Section 377 of the IPC

- The creation of small but significant spaces for queer people to express who they are

- All the family members, colleagues and friends who have embraced the queer people in their lives

- Our support from politicians and other public figures

- The untiring efforts of queer and queer-friendly activists, lawyers, journalists, artists across the country that have got us this far

- The victories of individuals such as Shabnam, who became a politician in Madhya Pradesh as a hijra

- The positive response from some quarters of the media, even as we hope for ever increasing support and recognition

Queers and their allies in Delhi will splash the colours of our lives on the streets of Delhi. We invite queers of every stripe, as well as all those who stand with us, to rejoice in the rainbow of diversity.