NO MORE FEAR
Bhubaneswar: The Temple City Bhubaneswar witnessed its sixth Rainbow Pride Walk, organised by a state-based LGBTQIA+ community Parichay Collective in association with non- governmental organisations Sakha and Saathii, here Saturday.
The two and half an hour walk which started from Rajmahal Square with around 500 people not only included members of LGBTQIA+ community but also students, mental health professionals and academicians, clad in rainbow colours marching through Master Canteen area before ending it near Satya Nagar here.
Notably, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual. The ‘+’ includes all other queer identities that have not been mentioned, such as pansexuality and polysexuality.
The Walk was followed by a solidarity gathering at 5:30 pm in remembrance of the community leaders who had succumbed to social oppression and, faced discrimination and violence.
The event concluded at around 6 pm with a candlelight vigil.
Orissa POST interacted with the organisers, members of the LGBTIQA+ community and the participants at the Walk.
Here’s what they had to say:
For Sanket Behera, a member of Parichay Collective, the Walk celebrates “sexual orientations” in all its hues. “The queer community has always been subjected to stigma and discrimination which naturally pose a challenge for the community to come out of their closet and express their sexual identities,” he added. Behera was delighted at the response that the Walk received from the youth. “The millennials have been very supportive!” Behera exclaimed.
Transgender Sadhana Mishra, a member of Sakha said, “The Rainbow Pride Walk is a way of asserting our presence, our right to exist and to lead our lives with dignity and self-respect on our own terms.” She added that it’s time to pledge our support for the subaltern group and do away with Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises sex “against the order of nature”. Sadhana, who himself faced the wrath of her family and society for her sexual orientation, pointed out that the oppression that begins in our homes continues in various institutions, including educational and healthcare settings, employment and public places.
Chairman of All Odisha Third Gender Welfare Trust and head of Sakha, Meera Parida, lamented over the “156-year-old Draconian Section-377” saying, “The obsolete section of the IPC by our erstwhile British rulers which criminalises sexual acts other than the peno-vaginal kind, even if they are consensual is primarily by used to harass and extort lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual and other queer individuals.” She rued that the section “tags them as criminals and violates their constitutional rights” to equality, life, personal liberty, privacy and dignity “They take us to quacks and unscrupulous medical practitioners for cures such as electro-shock therapy, despite nearly four decades of medical evidence indicating that LGBT+ persons are not diseased, and that our sexuality/gender cannot be changed through such means,” she highlighted.
Revisiting the Zurich Pride Festival-2017, Ashok Kumar Champatia, a bi-sexual, said, “There should be no fear to be you.” However, it was “heartening” for him to see the Walk people swarming with huge numbers and rendering them the support they need.
It may be mentioned here that Bhubaneswar hosted its first Pride Walk in 2009 and the yearly event continued till 2012. In 2012, the Pride Walk was also held in the districts of Bhawanipatnaa and Kalahandi in the state. However, in 2013, theapex courtmade homosexuality a crime again, even if it is consensual and done between adults in private, dealing a cruel blow to lakhs ofhomosexuals, many of whom had started living together after theDelhi High Court decriminalised same-sex relationships in 2009. Consequently, the Walk did not take place in the city from 2013 to 2016.
Various pre-pride events such as a Queer Film Screening, literature reading and panel discussions were held in recent weeks before the Pride Walk Saturday.