'We will fight for our space'

'Queer Habba'

'We will fight for our space'

The sexual minorities are all set to paint the City roads in rainbow colours. Bangalore's LGBT community will celebrate ‘Bengaluru Pride and Karnataka Queer Habba’ from November 6, which will culminate with the ‘Pride March’ on November 23.

Though the celebrations are sure to be bigger and more colourful this year, a sense of fear has enveloped the sexual minorities in the City in the wake of Supreme Court upholding the law criminalising unnatural sex.

The LGBT community in the City, however, is ready to face the challenge and shun the closet forever. They say that people will have to accept them as they are and give them equal space under the sun.

This year’s ‘Pride March’ will protest against 36A of the Karnataka Police Act which entitles ‘power to regulate eunuchs’ and demanding the government of Karnataka to form Transgender Welfare Board and to implement policy for transgenders.

The community will also protest against the atrocities against the LGBT community in the name of implementing Section 377 and that it be repealed.

Akkai, a social activist and an integral part of the ‘Pride March’ says, “This is the first Pride March after Section 377 has come into effect. We will not only demonstrate our strength but show our aggression as well. It is high time people start accepting us as a part of the mainstream society. We will continue to fight for our space.”
 
There is a section of the LGBT community which is accused of accosting people for money, especially at traffic signals. Reasoning out such behaviour, Sona, a transgender, explains, “We are forced to behave the way we do because we feel unsafe and discriminated against wherever we go. We are just viewed as objects for sex.”

She adds, “Even if I go to a nearby shop to buy something after dark, people ask me if I have come for sex work. This is the perception and it must change.”

Mallapa, State coordinator for Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum points out that Section 377 and after has been hell for the LGBT community.

“Things have improved but we still find it hard to get a decent job to make both ends meet. We form a large part of society and not a negligible number as said by the government. We also have the right to live. We are tortured and even beaten up by the police for no fault of ours,” he reasons.

Archana Shetty, co-founder of We’re Here And Queer (WHAQ), points out that a lot of people like her still feel very marginalised. “The ‘Pride March’ is held to make our presence felt in the society. We still have a few people who smirk at us but that’s slowly changing and people have begun to give us our space,” she says.

She sums up saying, “The first challenge for anybody from the LGBT community is acceptance of who they are and fighting for their space in society is the next challenge. Even if we don’t get a job, we will have the knowledge to defend ourselves from exploitation.”

This year, the otherwise colourful ‘Pride March’ will also see a lot of people wearing black ribbons as a mark of protest.

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