BENGALURU: THE LGBTQIA community came together in the city on Sunday and took out one of the longest queer marches in the country. Around 7,000 participants came out in support of the marginalised community in the march from Lokmanya Tilak Park near Majestic Metro Station to Freedom Park. Called Namma Pride, this was the 10th Karnataka Queer Habba. Roads opposite the metro station were enveloped in a riot of colours as the community members danced with pride to drumbeats.
Among other demands, they wanted the repeal of Section 36-A of the Karnataka Police Act which gives the Commissioner power to regulate eunuchs by maintaining a register of their names and places of residence in his area “who are reasonably suspected of kidnapping or emasculating boys or of committing unnatural offences.”
Protesting under the banner -- Coalition for Sex Workers, Sexual and Sexuality Minorities’ Rights-Bengaluru — they also demanded immediate release of pending grants from 2014 to 2016 from the National Aids Control Organsiation and State Aids Control Society. Even though Karnataka is yet to form a transgender welfare board or commission, which is one of the primary demands of activists, the transgender policy that aims to protect them from insults, social discrimination and abuse was cleared by the Cabinet in October.
The policy lays down measures to integrate transgenders into the mainstream and will be implemented by setting up transgender cells. Counselling centres will also be set up to address stigma, discrimination and violence, identification and certification, which is a critical aspect of being counted as a transgender besides legal support.
Participants had come from Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and many other Indian cities to be a part of the pride march. People from Switzerland, Germany and Australia were also seen holding placards and shouting slogans for decriminalising homosexuality. Delfina from a Tamil Nadu-based NGO said, “Though our state had an Arvani (Transgender) Welfare Board 10 years back, nothing much has happened in terms of identification, reservation in education and employment.”
Shilpa M, who had come out in support of her friend, said she was adopted by transgender parents and participating in the queer march was like coming home. “This is the third queer march I am attending and have been to pride marches in Australia and Isreal. In India, it is about activism and protesting for a more inclusive society but in Australia it is about just that -- pride. They are proud to be gay. In Isreal, there were contingents from various countries like France with arterial roads being cleared for the march,” she said.
Yash Sharma, an organiser, said they want the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights ) Bill-2016 repealed as it wasn’t fair to them. “It states that a third party should attest our identity after we identify ourselves with a particular gender orientation,” he said.