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Rediff.com  » News » LGBTQ organisations hold candlelight vigil protesting Section 377 verdict

LGBTQ organisations hold candlelight vigil protesting Section 377 verdict

December 14, 2013 22:53 IST

Several United States-based South Asian LGBTQ organisations, as well as community organisations united in solidarity against Section 377 and hosted a candle light vigil on Friday.

About 70 protesters gathered at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, with placards carrying messages -- love is not crime; stop letting colonialism dictate our cultures; 377 quit india and some holding candles said that South Asian LGBTQ groups in North America are disappointed with India's Supreme Court ruling, decriminalising homosexual sex.

The San Francisco (Northern California) candlelight vigil was hosted by Trikone, a non-profit support, social, and political organisation for South Asian bisexual, lesbian, gay, andtransgender people.

Ramakrishnan Kazhiyur-Mannar, a member of Trikone, told Rediff.com, "We are humans and we do need respect but the judgement shows that we should not be. So we've to make people understand that we are part of the society as anybody else."

Kazhiyur-Mannar said he grew up in India when nobody uttered the word gay. Now you cannot hide. Even though he belongs to a conservative household people views have changed. "Today we see more gay people and nobody can ignore them," he said.

"Being an Indian citizen, I still go back to India to vote. I am happy Indian politicians, celebrities are coming out and doing what is right. So no matter what government comes into power they cannot ignore us," he said, and added, "The constitution promises these rights, the judge overlooked the constitution it does not mean it's not there. I want to treat India as what it could be and it is a place where everybody can feel free and I am going to do my best for that."

Anu Mandavilli, spokesperson Friends of South Asia and a South Asian activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area told Rediff.com on joining the candlelight vigil, "I don't think the judge cannot say who and how people can have sex. I think the Indian judiciary should stay out of it."

She said, "I want the state to protect me and to protect gays from police harassment because I fear the judgement could become a tool to police to harass all kinds of people. I think the judiciary should be protecting these people not actually criminalising them.

In Southern California the candlelight was hosted by Satrang,  a cultural, social, and support organisation providing a safe space to empower and advocate for the rights of the South Asian LGBTIQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Questioning).

Almas Haider, president, Satrang answering on how the candlelight could impact the India government told Rediff.com, "Oppression and denial of human rights is unacceptable. Our vigil, protests, and solidarity events across the globe show the impact of not just South Asians who have emigrated from their homeland but also for those who stand by us. The Supreme Court’s of ruling does not reflect our opinion or the millions of others who stand with us. While we may have left South Asia, it is still our home. But a home that rejects us, and for that on the basis of an outdated colonial law, is unjust. And we will fight alongside our siblings in India until our rights are granted."

Haider sharing the main concern said, "By re-criminalising homosexuality, the Supreme Court has knowingly put the entire LGBT population in danger. For every act of violence, every word of hate that is directed towards them, the justices of the Supreme Court are responsible."

The protesters in San Francisco also submitted a joint petition to the Indian government which said, "As organisations and individuals who value inclusion and justice, we are deeply disappointed with the Indian Supreme Court's shameful decision to uphold Indian Penal Code Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex.  We oppose 377 and any other measure that discriminates against LGBTQ peoples in our communities.  And as immigrant-based groups, we are especially concerned about the impact this setback will have on South Asians who worry that their government does not welcome them.”

Ritu Jha in San Francisco