Mumbai Pride 2020: Thousands stand in solidarity with queer Muslims amid CAA-NRC chaos, urge govt to amend 'draconian' Transgender Act
At the Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride 2020 in Mumbai, sentiments of a broken 'cistem' ran high, as thousands gathered to further the cause of equality, LGBTQIA+ rights.
Quite an aberration from the otherwise 'loud and proud' flag off at the August Kranti Maidan, the 2020 Pride Parade was relegated to a gathering at Mumbai's Azad Maidan.
The Mumbai Police had rescinded permission three days before the parade due to fear of anti-CAA and NRC slogans being raised by those marching.
Even then, members of various queer communities and allies, exercised their democratic right to peacefully protest against certain government policies, which seem to be gravely discriminatory against individuals on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
At the Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride 2020 in Mumbai, sentiments of a broken "cistem" ran high, as thousands gathered to further the cause of equality and LGBTQIA+ rights. Of course, the RuPaul references and continuous rounds of finger-snapping were offered as generously. Quite an aberration from the otherwise 'loud and proud' flag off at the August Kranti Maidan, the 2020 Pride Parade was relegated to a gathering at Mumbai's Azad Maidan, due to required permissions not coming through.
As it has been reported earlier, the Mumbai Police rescinded permission three days before the parade due to fear of anti-CAA and NRC slogans being raised by those marching. Even then, three days later, members of various queer communities and allies, exercised their democratic right to peacefully protest against certain government policies, which seem to be gravely discriminatory against individuals who find themselves on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
The heavily-opposed Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was collectively 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 took to the stage as one of the speakers at the event.
Another rousing speech that demanded azaadi from "cisheteropatriarchy" was delivered by activist-singer-writer Doel Rakshit, who identifies as transgender. "This is a warning to the Indian government. And it's a warning from me — a transgender woman of colour. Please do not instigate us. The last time transgender women of colour took to the streets, the Stonewall riots happened. You do not know what we are capable of."
Apart from the Transgender Persons Act, the attendees acknowledged the Shaheen Bagh protests in New Delhi, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register for Citizens (NRC), as a step in expressing solidarity with queer Muslims. "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 collective statement. While QAM has been at the helm of Mumbai Pride for over a decade, the attendees this year did not hesitate to make their politics on the burning issue of CAA-NRC known, in the presence of Mumbai Police personnel. "The government is so scared of their new law — probably because it is [constitutionally] invalid — that they had to cancel the Pride," said Piyush, who like many was dressed in rainbow colours.
While acknowledging how drastically the landscape of queer expression has changed since the Supreme Court's historic reading down of Section 377, a shared sense of responsibility was evoked as talk of the way ahead took over conversations. People were not just reminded of the issues at hand, but also the civil rights that remain compromised due to the heteronormative nature of our laws. "Individual petitions would have to be put in to address rights such as adoption, same-sex marriages, non-discrimination at the workplace etc. It is imperative that the queer movement is led not just by a couple of activists, but finds inspiration and support in ordinary people whose lives are affected by the policies in place," activist Pallav Patankar pointed out.
As the three hours allotted to Pride 2020 by the Mumbai Police came to an end, the crowd broke into a rendition of 'Saare Jahan Se Achcha', while holding up the LGBTQIA+ as well as the transgender flag high. "There are no rights for some of us till there are rights for all of us," said activist Harish Iyer in his closing statement, reminding everyone of the fight ahead.