Police in Hyderabad, southern India, have refused permission for the city’s first gay pride parade.
Organizers say the parade promoting gay, bi, trans, queer and intersex rights was ‘flatly refused’ by police.
But they argue they have a ‘fundamental right’ to hold the event on 14 October and that permission should be granted as a ‘matter of course’.
LGBT organizations Wajood and Prathibimb along with several other groups were trying to set up the parade.
But the event is scheduled for the same time as the international Conference of Parties biodiversity meeting in the city, which has almost 8million residents.
This has, however, not deterred the organizers making arrangements for the event.
They have advertised for costume designers and artists. And they have been seeking accommodation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex activists who have committed themselves to attend from other parts of India.
‘While we want support from various groups, we do not want to be under the umbrella of any particular group as it might camouflage the priorities of those participating in the pride,’ they said.
The parade’s focus was to include the demand to uphold the quashing of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes gay sex. Homosexuality has been legalized in India by the courts but judges have said politicians need to make a decision on the long-term future of 377.
It also wanted to promote making schools friendlier for LGBTs and campaign against forced marriages.
Organizers added: ‘We cannot represent just the LGB communities as the transgender communities are as important to the fold as anyone else. The pride will represent the concerns of all communities.’
Speaking about being refused permission, they told Gay Star News: ‘The police in Hyderabad are under a Congress Government, the same government that made all the right sounding noises at the [UN Human Rights Council] during India’s periodic review… It’s two-faced, one for the domestic audience and one for the international audience.
‘[It is] blatant state sponsored homophobia exhibited by the Hyderabad Police when they refused permission today for the Hyderabad Pride Parade.’
In their postings and communications, including on several Facebook group sites they say ‘maybe the time has come when the queer community of Hyderabad (and of India as a whole) needs to take a stand and say “enough and no more” to such hooliganism in uniform.
‘To march peaceably is our constitutional fundamental right. The courtesy of seeking permission should not be mistaken as weakness… people should be ready now to make sacrifices… the struggle is long from over.’
They are also working with HIV organizations, the Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies and kothis and hijras groups.
Orinam, an LGBT group from Chennai, India, is also due to be part of the pride parade line-up.
Organisers had said that the parade would be formally announced once they have received police permission.
The groups behind the pride have been active for the past two years, holding various programs bringing together different members of the community.
Previous events have included Aks, a cultural meet organized at Anweshi and the Rainbow Film Festival, which was held in the city last month.