Around 170 members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community participated in a parade in Surat on Sunday demanding rights equivalent to married couples as well as equal social acceptance in the society. The rally had participants not just from Surat, but also from across the country as well as overseas.
The parade, Gujarat LGBT Pride Festival, was organised by the LGBT community in Surat along with Swalambi Chuwal Mandal and Chuwal Gram Vikas Trust based in Ahmedabad. The 3-km-long parade from Court Complex at Athwalines to Kargil Chowk in Piplod kicked off at 10:30 am.
The community demanded social acceptance and rights of a common man including the right to be married. They also demanded removal of Section 377 of IPC as well as legalisation of LGBT marriages. Another major demand put forth was allowing adoption of children by LGBT couples.
“LGBTs too have a right to live in this society and enjoy the rights that a citizen enjoys today. You can’t isolate LGBTs just because they think and act differently. Till today, the society sees LGBTs as unnatural people,” said Swagat Shah, one of the organisers.
According to Shah, Surat was their first choice of location for the parade as it is a commercial hub and has strong political presence. The community saw this parade as a turning point in their fight for rights.
“More such parades will unite LGBTs and can force the administration to think for our rights. Today’s parade has shown that the LGBTs are pretty serious about their rights,” said Reshma (name changed), a transgender.
Social media impact
Social networking site Facebook played an important role in connecting LGBTs worldwide for Surat’s Sunday parade. Besides contacting group members, organisers shared information related to the parade via Facebook. This helped in bringing the community on one platform. According to organisers, more than 350 LGBTs were to participate in the parade; however, the police granted permission for just 200 members.
A’bad, the next stop
After the success of the first LGBT parade in Surat, the organisers are planning for a second parade in Ahmedabad in December 2013. The announcement was made by the organisers in the parade held in Surat on Sunday. The second parade will be organised by Swalambi Chuwal Mandal.