The Mumbai Pride March 2020 (#mumbaipride2020) organised by the collective called the Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM) and Humsafar Trust was held on February 1, 2020. Traditionally, since the last ten odd years, this march by the LGBTQIA+ has been held from the August Kranti Maidan, the same iconic park from where Mahatma Gandhi started the QUIT INDIA movement in August 1942.
The Mumbai Police denied them permission for the march from August Kranti Maidan fearing anti CAA/NRC slogans being raised at the march. The gathering was moved to a new location, Azad Maidan just near the famed and beautiful structure of the erstwhile Victoria Terminus Railway Station (now known as the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus).
The LGBTQIA+ community gathered in thousands (estimated numbers reported were around 5000) at Azad Maidan for a gathering of solidarity. The disappointment among the community was evident as unlike the earlier years, which used to be a celebration march, turned to become a march to protest. To protest for their rights, irrespective of religion and gender.
The theme for this year’s pride gathering was “Bring it On” (#bringiton). The gathering was attended by the Members of the community, their parents, well wishers and the supporters of the community. Members came dressed in their colourful and assertive best. Some members came as a team from different corporate organisations, showing that even organisations had now opened up to this community and treat them as equals within their workforce.
QAM had organised group performances and talks by speakers from diverse backgrounds, including parents support Group SWEEKAR. They sang songs, read couplets and poetry, voiced their dissent against the amended Citizenship law, and also read the Preamble from the Constitution of India. Members were seen carrying posters of love and equality and also criticizing the CAA / NRC and the Mumbai Police, for their decision to deny them the permission for the March from August Kranti Maidan.
Some of the speakers went on to oppose the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act. In fact it was condemned at the gathering for violating the directives of the NALSA judgment pertaining to the right to self-identification. “The Act mentions self-identification, but ultimately, I have to go to the district magistrate to be medically certified as a transgender person. Now, who can tell me what my identity is? In this view, the act is draconian and a blatant attack on the dignity of transgender persons. They have not even consulted any representatives of the community for an act they have passed to regulate it,” said Anjali, a transwoman who was one of the speakers at that event on that day.
It wasn’t just the Transgender Persons Act that the attendees spoke about. They also acknowledged the Shaheen Bagh protests in New Delhi, showing solidarity with queer Muslims. Those demonstrations were against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register for Citizens (NRC). “We stand by the 2,000 transpersons who have been left out of the NRC list in Assam, and we will continue to fight for the causes we believe in,” the organisers at Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM) said in a statement.
QAM has been in charge of Mumbai Pride for over a decade, but this year the attendees were certainly vocal in their disapproval of both the CAA and NRC, despite the presence of the local police force. “The government is so scared of their new law — probably because it is invalid — that they had to cancel the Pride,” said one of the participants.
As the Mumbai Pride 2020 March neared its closing time of 6pm, the crowd broke into a rendition of ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha’. Supporters held up both the LGBTQIA+ as well as the transgender flag with confidence and joy. Then Harish Iyer rounded things off nicely with his closing statement where he spoke of the fight that still lay ahead: “There are no rights for some of us till there are rights for all of us”.
NOTE: all images are copyright Nikhil Rawal.
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