New Delhi: Fearing the Pride Parade would turn into a protest march against CAA-NRC-NPR, the Mumbai police has denied permission to the LGBTQIA+ community to hold their annual march at August Kranti Maidan. The community has been granted permission to hold a ‘solidarity gathering’ at the more secluded and not as visible Azad Maidan, instead.
“The police denied permission because the community’s social media posts let on that their plans were different this time,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajiv Jain told ThePrint. He said there were concerns the Pride Parade would turn into a protest against the amended citizenship law, for which permission to march in the city couldn’t be granted.
“Azad Maidan is the designated area for any protest in the city,” the DCP of Zone 2, South Mumbai added.
Queer Azadi Mumbai has been held in the city on 1 February every year since 2008. Members and supporters of the community gather at August Kranti Maidan and march to the Royal Opera House in South Mumbai. Last year, more than 15,000 people attended the march.
‘Solidarity gathering will be bigger and louder this year’
“The pride this year experiences the sombre mood of the nation,” says Harish Iyer, co-organiser of Queer Azaadi Mumbai. This time, members of the LGBTQ+ community will hold a ‘solidarity gathering’ at Azad Maidan.
The equal rights activist said Baramati MP Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule cooperated with the organisers and tried her best to secure permissions for the Pride Parade to happen at August Kranti Maidan. However, in light of the recent shooting at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi, the police and the home ministry were of the opinion that Pride was better off in an enclosed area this year.
The police said there could be any kind of miscreants on the route to Opera House and that could lead to clashes or violence.
Through their social media handles and on-ground announcements at the event, the organisers will request the attendees to not raise slogans that don’t pertain to the interests of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We’ll appeal through our social media channels to only raise issues in conjunction with the LGTBQ community like trans lives getting lost,” added Iyer, who did note, though, that the NRC becomes an inter-sectional issue for the community, especially for trans people.
According to him, about 2,000 trans people didn’t make it to the final Assam NRC list. He said trans people would anyway find it difficult to furbish documents since they change their gender expression, names and in many cases, even appearance through surgery. He maintains that any issue raised in Azad Maidan will be from an inter-sectional standpoint.
The Pride Parade has come to mean an assertion of identity and expression of solidarity for members of the community in Mumbai. A lot of members even fly down to the city just to attend the march. Many of them are disappointed at the cancellation.
Speaking to ThePrint, Samarth Ronak Kitha, a student in Paris, said August Kranti Maidan has been the Stonewall of the community in Mumbai. He, however, added that even though the venue change hurts because of the sentimental value they hold with the Maidan, the solidarity gathering will be bigger and louder this year.
“The community is strong, has a voice and continues to grow. Despite the Trans Bill among other things, they can’t keep us a hidden secret anymore. We’re out and open,” he said.