The Indian state of Gujarat held their first ever Pride parade on Sunday, October 6 in Surat, the states’ second largest city, and India’s eighth most populated urban center. Nearly 200 participants marched and danced through the streets of Surat in celebration, although many wrapped scarves or masks around their faces in order to conceal their identities.
Organizers of the parade, who faced a long wait for approval from government officials, hoped the event would take place before the 2014 Indian general elections – a goal which they have met. In addition to celebrating Gay Pride and raising awareness of LGBTQ in India, the event is meant to send a message to Indian politicians — that equal rights are of high importance and need to be addressed in order to receive support from LGBTQ voters.
At the Gujarat LGBTQ Pride Festival, attendees rallied for mainstream acceptance, equal rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption.
“LGBTs too have a right to live in this society and enjoy the rights that a citizen enjoys today,” said Pride organizer Swagat Shah, as reported by dnaIndia.
“You can’t isolate LGBTs just because they think and act differently. Till today, the society sees LGBTs as unnatural people,” she explained. Through events such as Gay Pride parades, awareness of the LGBTQ population and the people in it can be raised, dispelling some of the misunderstandings and beliefs held about gays in society.
Shah indicated that the city of Surat is an ideal location for the parade, because of its popularity and high political influence.
In 2009 same-sex relationships were decriminalized in India, and each year more and more cities join in the celebration of Gay Pride, although homosexuality is still shunned in many parts of the country.
Most of the public in attendance at the Pride parade in Surat showed excitement and support for the Pride march, reported dnaIndia.