We are not minuscule, say Mumbai's LGBT community members

We’re queer, we’re here, says members of Mumbai's LGBT community as they brace for apex court taking up a petition on archaic section of Indian Penal Code

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community, staunch allies and loyal supporters are holding a vigil on Sunday evening at Girgaum Chowpatty. The ‘vigil’ is just two days before the Supreme Court takes up a curative petition on Section 377 on February 2. Well-known queer rights activist, Lesley Esteves says, “We are gathering in strength, support and solidarity. The court had felt that we are a ‘minuscule’ minority, so we want the court to see us. We are the people who have been recriminalised.” When asked what the community is feeling right now, Lesley says it is a mix of, “hope, pride and determination. Our cause is just. We know it is a question of when, not if, same sex relations will be decriminalised in India.”

Darshil Sh, Shobhna Kumar and Sushant Divgikar
Darshil Sh, Shobhna Kumar and Sushant Divgikar

“We have to show our strength and prove that we are not minuscule, but a large group of people,” says Harrish Iyer, equal rights activist.

It is belief and hope that will propel Darshil Sh of Yariyaan (Humsafar Trust’s youth wing) to be there on Sunday. “I believe our voice will be heard and we will get a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court,” he said.

Some messages are profound. Like, S Shobhna Kumar, founder of Queer Ink, publishing house and online bookstore, says, “The bullying of people from the community should be stopped, and the identity of a gay person should be accepted. This is the message I hope to convey to the apex court with my presence.”

Show of strength seems to be the theme. “The issue cannot be swept under the carpet. I don’t want to live in fear with my partner. I will stand with the community asserting my right as a citizen to live and love,” says Sonal Giani, advocacy manager of the non-profit, Humsafar Trust.

There are a mix of political and personal statements that participants are trying to make.

“I will be going for myself. I want to be counted and not ignored. I am a tax payer in India. LGBT numbers in India are in crores. A large chunk of Bandra is LGBT,” says Sushant Divgikar, actor and model, on a note of amusing and sweeping finality.

— Inputs by Maleeva Rebello

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