The ancient temple city of Bhubaneswar in India not only hosted its first Pride parade at the weekend, but it was the first time a lot of LGBTI people could freely be themselves.
Bhubaneswar is the capital of the tiny eastern state of Odisha, where it can be much tougher than other parts of India to be LGBTI.
‘Too many people in Odisha suffer from mental health issues, bad marriages and stressful relationships with family members or workplace colleagues because of the burden of being a closeted individual,’ said Bhubaneswar Pride organizer, Bijaya Biswal.
But on Saturday 1 September, a healthy sized crowd turned out to celebrate the LGBTI community and each other.
‘But by building a community, I wanted to facilitate that these people meet others like them and understand they are not alone,’ she said.
‘That they have others who understand their tragedies and struggles because they have similar stories. Community gives an individual a power to feel at home and that’s exactly what these events have resulted in.’
Homosexual sex is illegal in India under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, but the Supreme Court might overturn that ban in the coming weeks. LGBTI people face stigma and family rejection in many parts of the country.
Here are some the best photos from the day taken by photographers, Sankalp Mohanty, Ranvir Deb, Boon Patnaik, Jaishreeram Dash and Subha Nayak and supplied to Gay Star News by Bhubaneswar Pride.