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Gays, lesbians march in Kolkata

M Chhaya in Kolkata | June 26, 2005 20:44 IST

Dressed in gaudy, revealing clothes, about 250 gays, lesbians and transvestites walked through a busy thoroughfare in Kolkata demanding rights for sexual minorities in India.

Though homosexuality is banned in India, dozens of policemen watched over the marchers without interfering with them.

Gay and lesbian couples held hands, hugged, kissed and sang songs without caring about snide remarks from curious onlookers. They even posed for photographers.

"We don't care what people have to say -- people of the so-called mainstream society," said Filomina Kataria, a law student who walked alongside her lesbian partner.

The marchers gave out handbills and urged passersby to join the procession. "We want people from all sections of the society to support our cause," said Amitava Karwa, an IT industry worker.

"We are marching for our rights and to mark the Stonewall Riots Day," said Sangita Mondal, one of the organisers of the march.

The Stonewall riots of the 1960s in New York had sparked off the gay and lesbian movement in the United States and the day is observed by homosexual groups worldwide.

"Through this march we want to tell the world we exist," said Teesta, a 27-year-old student.

Several people in the crowd of onlookers asked the police to breakup the march. "How can you allow all this perversion to take place publicly? Isn't it banned?" asked Sipra Sonali Das, a housewife accompanying her son back from school.

The marchers sang We Shall Overcome and held posters denouncing the anti-homosexuality law.


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