India Celebrates First Anniversary Of Decriminalization Of Homosexuality
Celebrations are taking place across India today in recognition of the first anniversary of a High Court ruling decriminalizing homosexuality.
Members of Mumbai's gay community danced, sang, laughed and hugged each other in the city's sprawling Azad Maidan park as speakers recalled the long years of struggle to get Indian courts to change the country's law. On July 2 last year, the Delhi High Court struck down a law — Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code — that made sex between people of the same gender punishable by up to 10 years in prison. While actual criminal prosecutions were rare, the law was frequently used to harass people.Despite the change in the law, some wore masks at the celebrations, fearing their families might see them on the news.
"I'm very excited. It's honestly independence day for us," said Arun Mirchandani, 28, who recently published his first book titled "You Are Not Alone" which deals with being homosexual in India. The rally was part of an event dubbed "365 Without 377" that brought together gays, lesbians and civil rights activists in five cities across India, including New Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore. Vikram Doctor, an organizer of the event, said the verdict has reduced incidents of police harassment. Other participants said the court's ruling had brought the issue of homosexuality into the open and people were discussing it in public, a dramatic change in conservative India where even heterosexual sex is generally talked about in hushed tones.