The rainbow flag, symbolising the LGBT community, was flying high at Matunga’s Maheshwari Udyan garden yesterday. As part of a protest, spread over two dozen cities across the world, around 1,500 men, women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community assembled here to make their voices heard against the Supreme Court’s judgment on Section 377.
“Gathering a crowd of not less than 1,500 people is an achievement, as we had only 24 hours to conduct everything for the protest march,” said veteran gay activist Ashok Row Kavi. The protest march was scheduled at 3 pm, but adhering to the garden schedule, it began at 4 pm and went on till 5 pm.
The protesters were dressed in black, and shouted slogans like, “Hume chahiye Azadi, Azadi” (We want freedom) and “Bolo Bolo shu che? Aa to prem che,” in Gujarati, which translates to, “What is this? This is love.” People from different states gathered here to participate in this protest. Swagat Shah had come all the way from Gujarat.
“We sent many people to Ahmedabad who protested before the ‘Run for unity’ marathon started and then we came to Mumbai to show our support,” he said. Vikram Doctor, founder of Gay Bombay, called the judgment bad and malicious and asked for a repeal of Section 377. He too was present at the protest march. A huge rainbow flag was hung from the flyover that passes over the garden. What was different about this protest was that not many people wore masks. They chose not to cover their faces and were open about their support to the LGBT community.
People shouted angry slogans against the SC verdict and were holding placards that read, ‘We are not criminals.’ Meanwhile, the BMC claimed that it is yet to check if the protestors had sought permission to hold the demonstration in the garden. “If they didn’t, then we will instruct the security agency that they shouldn’t allow such an event to be repeated,” said SS Shinde, Joint Commissioner, BMC .