Today, if I am happy, it is because I came out. If I am successful, it is because I came out,” says Mohnish Malhotra to the nearly 5,000-strong crowd that had walked from Barakhamba Road to Jantar Mantar. As one of the founder members of the Delhi Queer Pride parade, the 29-year-old owner of a public relations company was buoyant and ebullient through the march that saw a wide intersection of the Capital’s public come out on the streets to celebrate love and demand their right to equal rights for the LGBTQI community, and their allies.
“The first Pride was a very spontaneous decision. A group of us were talking about it mid-June, and then we got to work. Thirteen days later, we were at Barakhamba Road. I had come out to my parents by then, and both my father and my mother stitched the first rainbow flag together,” says Malhotra.
On Sunday afternoon, the city’s air was still heavy with smog, and the skies were dull grey, but if there was one spot of bright colour and happiness in all of Delhi, it was at the Pride parade. The march began at 3.30 pm amid much fanfare, while police personnel looked on, bemused and poker-faced, depending on whose eye you caught.
At Jantar Mantar, environmental activist Vimal Bhai, and LGBTQI activist Noor Enayat, took the stage to speak against Section 377, and the brutalities meted out to those fighting for their human rights. “Until Hadiya is free, until Kausalya and Shankar get justice, until rape accused ex-IGP of Bastar SRP Kalluri and SP Ankit Garg are brought to justice and stripped of their President’s police medal and gallantry awards, until the impunity around the rapes and murders of Asiya and Nilofer and Manorama are broken, until the women of BHU and in universities everywhere can be free from intimidation and curfews, our collective right to love with freedom and safety remains in jeopardy… We stand with all those struggling to remain alive and speak truth to power today,” they said.
This year, the Delhi Queer Pride committee released its list of demands in its press release. The three points are: “Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and social accountability for discrimination on the basis of gender, class, caste, religion, ability, race, tribe, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Effective implementation of the provisions of the Supreme Court judgment in NALSA vs Union of India and serious revisions to the currently draconian form of the trans rights bill according to inputs and suggestions by the community. Read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, repeal Karnataka Police Act 36 A and Hyderabad Eunuch Act, anti-beggary, anti-Hijra laws, sedition laws, UAPA and AFSPA, and remove the marital rape exception from rape laws which should offer redressal to all victims/survivors of sexual assault irrespective of gender.”