Mumbai’s Rainbow Walk on independence day went successfully. Led off by Celina Jaitley, who had a gay friend who died recently, the walk included gays, lesbians, bisexuals, hijras, transgenders, kothis, panthis and inter-sex people.
The walk began at India’s Independence monument at August Kranti Marg and was intended to symbolize that in India, gay people are still seeking their freedom from Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This was introduced under British rule in 1860 by Lord Macauley and has a maximum penalty of up to ten years. Ironically, of course, anti-gay legislation has long since disappeared from UK and EU law.
The march successfully traveled to Chowpatty Beach with displays of rainbow flags, banners, slogans, costumes, drag queens and other assorted exotica. “I lost a dear friend to homophobia. We should support the cause and hope that Section 377 goes,” said Celina, who played the role of a lesbian in the psycho-thriller Girlfriend.
“The antiquated British Law of Section 377 should not be around in a society as progressive as ours,” said Anand Grover of Lawyers Collective, a group challenging the law in the High Court. “I am an eternal optimist and hope that the courts will take a supportive stand on the reading down of this section.”
Reema Kagti, the director of Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. which included a sympathetic portrait of two gay men said, “The mark of a civilised society is the way it treats its minorities and it is time India allowed its lesbian and gay citizens to lead dignified and honest lives.”