Queer Azaadi organised a 'Vigil For Love' in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on Thursday to express solidarity with the victims and survivors of the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting incident, in which 50 died and 53 people got injured.
Terming the attack an act of terrorism and an act of hatred towards a particular community, Thomas Vajda, US consulate-general, said, “It’s a terrible tragedy, what happened in Orlando. It means a lot to me that halfway around the world, there are a group of people in Mumbai who are coming together to show solidarity with the victims, to show support for the victims.”
Vajda was accompanied by his daughter Bette Vajda, who spoke at the gathering too. “I want to say that for every person who wants to commit an act of hate, there are more people who want to help, more people who want to heal,” she said.
LGBT activists took the opportunity to remind the NDA government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that such attacks keep happening in India silently due to the Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality. In his tweet condemning the attack, Modi had not mentioned the term LGBT.
“People commit suicide due to the stigma. Some are raped to correct gender,” trangender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi said.
Condemning the attack in Orlando, she made a plea to the prime minister: “I, again, tell Narendra Modi to act upon the entire basis of democracy that India is built upon and to own our own people in our own country and make them safe.”
“It’s about time that the Indian government takes cognisance of the fact that the threat to the LGBT community is real and it’s not just a figment of anybody’s imagination happening all the time,” said Pallav Patankar, Director, HIV Programs, Humsafar Trust.
The vigil did not have a huge turnout though.
Urmi Jadhav, who works with the Humsafar Trust as a research assistant, said that it wasn’t pre-planned, which could be one of the reasons for this.
However, actress Dolly Thakore, in her speech, pointed out that it upset her that people whom she knew were gays or lesbians had not come out to stand with the rest, in support of this cause.
People around the world have stood in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the shooting, and have come out in large numbers to condemn the act.