“Each year we have a theme, this year at the Namma Pride we want to commemorate the pioneers of the Bengaluru Pride moment,” said a cheerful Sneha (name changed), 27, who has been a queer and human rights activist for quite some time now. She was all set to march the Namma Pride and, like the others who had gathered at the Lokmanya Tilak Park, was waiting for the crowd to swell.
The 12th Namma Pride march which took place on 24 November, Sunday, primarily focused on commemorating activists and pioneers of the queer moment in Bengaluru. “Last year we celebrated the scrapping of Section 377, this year we want to pay tribute to the activists who have contributed to achieving the rights that we have today,” Sneha added.
Apart from spreading awareness about the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, over thousands who had gathered the Lokmanya Tilak Park, were seen protesting against the new Transgender Person’s (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 which is expected to be reviewed in the Rajya Sabha on 25 November 2019.
While many dressed up in rainbow coloured clothes and elaborate attires at the march, some chose to wear black outfits as an indicator of protest against the new trans bill which was passed by the Lok Sabha on 5 August 2019.
The bill has raised many a concern from the trans and queer community. The bill dehumanises the transgender community and contravenes the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgement.
“The bill has failed to recognize our basic rights i.e. to offer us (the transgender community) compulsory reservations in educational institutions, jobs, separate washrooms and better treatment in clinics and hospitals etc.,” said an angry Zunaira, 27, who identifies herself as a transwoman from Mangalore.
“We also condemn the bill for including a penalty of only six months to two years for rape accused while it is life imprisonment for raping a woman. We are women too!,” she retorted.
“I wore a black sari and ribbon today. This is in protest against the new trans bill. Through the Namma Pride march, we want the bill to be opposed in the Parliament and redrafted only after consulting the trans community,” said Geetha, another trans woman who attended the march.
“I have come all the way from Chennai and am wearing black today to oppose the trans bill which is likely to be discussed in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow (November 25),” added Yesu Raja L, 26, gay man running the Magizhvan Foundation.
As far as Section 377 is concerned, not many were happy with it. “We are still struggling to get our civil rights sorted,” said Lakshmi, 28, who identifies herself as a lesbian. “We cannot purchase property, avail insurance benefits or even marry our partners in India. Most of us still travel to the West to get married, which is a complete shame.”
“We hope our voices are heard through this iconic Namma Pride march,” said Amala (name changed), 22, lesbian and student at a prestigious university in Bengaluru.
The pride march was not all protesting and angry sloganeering; it also had a festive side to it. The rhythmic drum beats added an extra charm to the pride march. Many members from the community danced and sang their way through, while others walked under the rainbow flag or raised placards with slogans opposing the trans bill.
With a fluffy colourful stole around their neck, Paristosh said, “It feels festive. The sound of the drums and the music is amazing. It keeps me motivated. I feel proud to be a part of the community.”
Some had come from far off cities like Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The organizers were seen distributing Namma Pride stickers and pamphlets to all those who had gathered at the venue.
“It feels absolutely great to attend such events. This is my third time in the pride march in Bengaluru. Compared to last year’s march, this year many people have come forward to participate in the march. By attending marches like this, we look forward to bringing a change in our society,” said Sourabh, 29, gay man, who came from Kolkata to attend the pride.
The central theme of the Namma Pride march 2019 was “The Walk of Tribute and Remembrance”. The march culminated at the Bangalore Town Hall and was followed by Hammeya Sanje – a cultural event held at 6 pm.