Gay Rights Momentum in India

Pride celebrations across India mark changing times for gay rights

Fueled by the possibility that a colonial-era law against homosexuality might be overturned in 2008, the LGBT community in India celebrated its first large Pride display in three major cities on June 29, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

At least 1,000 gays and lesbians in New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore marched in anticipation of a decision in the court case challenging India’s anti-sodomy law, known as statute No. 377. The law, enacted by the ruling British government in 1861, describes homosexual acts as “against the order of nature,” and is still used to discriminate against gays and lesbians in areas such as policing, health care and employment. A decision about the law from the Delhi High Court is expected by the end of the year.

In India, the world’s largest democracy and one of its fastest growing economies, ancient traditions based in Hindu scriptures emphasize marriage and children, and often prioritize sons as carriers of the family name. However, gay activists find hope for change in Internet organizing and the mainstream exposure fostered by the increase in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

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