On Sunday, Kolkata witnessed queer rage and solidarity on the occasion of the 16th Kolkata Rainbow Pride March. The event was preceded by more than an hour long protest against the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 which violates the guarantee of self-determination for transgender individuals that was afforded by the Supreme Court’s NALSA verdict in 2014.
Organizers of the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival (KRPF) distributed leaflets emphasizing the dangerous implications of the Bill as well as the Indian government’s vote against a recent United Nations resolution that unequivocally condemned the punishment of death penalty for same-sex relations in several countries across the world. However, it also lauded a recent verdict of the Supreme Court of India that has legally acknowledged privacy as a fundamental incontrovertible right, also simultaneously recognizing the right to privacy of people who have suffered discrimination owing to their non-normative sexual and gender identities.
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However, given the prejudiced nature of our state and society, there is still a long way forward towards justice and equality for LGBTQIA+ people and communities in India. Owing to the lack of political will of our ruling elite, the vulnerable existence of queer people at the margins is perilously stabilized. In order to battle precarity bred through the state’s dismissive neglect of non-normative identities, there is a lot to be rallied for. Visibility is fundamental among them.
Each year, Pride Marches make subversive attempts to celebrate queer identities and expressions and have them reclaim public spaces with great flourish. Kolkata was no different this year. Queer people and their allies marched down city streets shouting slogans of freedom from patriarchy, caste, capitalism, right-wing politics and heteronormativity.
There was sloganeering, which called for the normalization of queer relationships in diverse forms asserting individual choice, bodily autonomy and sexual freedom. The parade offered moments of radical queer solidarity and camaraderie that was imbued with the hope for a better, and more accommodating, future.
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