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No political posters, no ‘bhakt’ bashing — queer group’s rules for Mumbai pride parade

Mumbai’s Color Positive Foundation is holding its first pride march on 28 January. But other top LGBTQI+ organisations like Humsafar Trust and Azaadi Mumbai have kept a distance.

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Mumbai: “Don’t carry political placards”, “don’t target religions or communities”, “don’t make it about bhakts and non-bhakts”. These are some general guidelines that Color Positive Foundation, an organisation that works for LGBTQIA+ rights, has suggested for its upcoming Mumbai Pride Parade on 28 January.

However, while the Color Positive Foundation has announced in promotional social media posts that “a lot of organisations are supporting this event”, these so far do not include two of Mumbai’s most prominent queer rights groups.

Both Humsafar Trust, which has been advocating for the community since 1994, and Queer Azaadi have said categorically on social media that they have nothing to do with organising the pride march. Neither has given any reason.

When asked about the guidelines, which have received some backlash on social media, Savio Mascarenhas, founder, Color Positive Foundation, said the objective was to talk about the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“What we said is, if you want to talk about politics, talk about the politics related to the LQBTQ community. Because our rights matter and we need to fight to get us legal rights,” he explained.

“For example, If I can’t marry, I can’t talk about laws related to alimony. So, discuss politics around the right to marry,” he added.

He said the organisation had obtained the permissions required for the march, which is its first such event. The march which will be held on Saturday, 28 January, on Bandra Carter Road from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm.


Also read: Selfies are all well, but the pride parade means so much more


The dos and don’ts

On its Instagram page, Color Positive Foundation posed a question: “How can we make this Pride better, and ask relevant questions please?” Many people responded.

One person asked: “Being a gay Muslim, can I make a slogan board for it to make people more aware?”

To this, the response from the Color Positive handle was: “This is a sensitive topic and you need to be sensitive not to cause concern for your own safety.”

Another person posted: “Can we bring our own political poster?” To which the reply was: “That’s a NO. You should not attack a community, political group or religion. If the poster is talking about your right as a citizen of the country, as an LGBTQIA individual, then yes.”

On a question that argued that a pride march was not a “party” but also “political” and a “protest”, the answer was: “Get political where LGBTQI matters.”

The responses of the organisation have resulted in some criticism on social media platforms like Twitter, with several tweets arguing that pride should not be depoliticised.

According to Mascarenhas, the organisation wants to focus on things that directly affect the queer community.

“They could be politics, fun, celebration, everything that pride stands for. So, we should be talking about our legal rights,” he said.

“Our concerns are right to marry, right to adopt, (right to) a proper work culture where we are respected, jobs for the transgender community — there are so many concerns,” he explained.

He added that the people of the community couldn’t buy a house together with a partner since they couldn’t get married or enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Other groups distancing themselves?

This Tuesday, two of the city’s leading queer rights groups made it known that they were not lending their support to the march, but did not offer any reasons.

Queer Azaadi Mumbai, which also holds annual pride parades in Mumbai, said in a statement released Tuesday: “Please be informed that at the moment, we are not requesting anyone for any donations for any activities. We shall keep you updated as and when things move ahead.”

The Humsafar Trust also stated Tuesday that it has not “endorsed any affiliations for Mumbai Pride Parade for January 2023 and the trust is not responsible for any arrangements, announcements, logistics, etc”.

When ThePrint asked Mascarenhas about not the march not being supported by Mumbai’s other organisations, he said talks were still on.

“We are in conversations with them and they are discussing it within their internal boards and will decide if they want to be a part of this or not. Right now, we are still in the process of arranging a meeting with them,” he said.

When contacted, a Humsafar Trust representative said they had nothing more to add other than the statement issued.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)


Also read: In Pictures: Delhi Queer Pride Parade takes on Transgender Bill 2019


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