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Balloon releasing in Bangalore to celebrate repeal of Section 377
Happy and gay, LGBTs in Bangalore celebrate their freedom

in INDIA, 02/07/2011

Two years on, the LGBT community in Bangalore came together to celebrate the Delhi high court’s judgment to repeal Section 377 that criminalised homosexuality.

Grey clouds, a slight drizzle and chilly winds couldn’t deter the community from celebrating the repealing of Section 377. Throughout the day, there were events marked to enjoy the freedom that’s been made possible the repealing of the law.

It started with a balloon-releasing function at Victoria statute in Cubbon Park. Laishram Romal Michael Singh, a gay activist, said: “The Victoria statute is the very reminder of people who gave us this draconian law.”

Prior to releasing balloons, participants took a pledge and Singh highlighted that: “The pledge was a reminder to the community that apart from celebrating this victory, it is everyone’s duty to create a friendly community that will help those who want to come out to do so with ease.

Also, that it’s our duty to create a community that finds respect among people. Last, to live up to expectations that could be different in different situations.”

“Releasing balloons in the air was symbolic in that as the balloons took flight, I personally felt a sense of freedom,” said Shyam, an IT professional who organised the event. As friends from the community and others gathered, there was a sense of belonging.

However, with the repealing of the law, many people in the community realise that it only makes “unnatural sex legal,” however, they feel what is needed is an acceptance that looks beyond legalising sex.

Shyam said: “Sex is not the only thing a LGBT person needs, it is also about having the freedom to be able to openly chose to live in with our partners.” In that sense, the balloon-releasing event signified the hope that “at a later stage, we will get larger acceptance in the society,” he said.

The morning drizzle turned into a heavy shower as evening set in and yet the crowd gathered at the Cubbon Park Bandstand for a story-telling event. Titled Love in the time of 377, members of the LGBT community came to share their stories and listen to others. Story-telling is becoming a tradition of sorts as it was part of last year’s Pride march.

Section 377 stood for silencing somebody’s expression. “It is significant as Section 377 silenced voices of the community and story-telling is our way of celebrating the right to speak, right to love, right to be able to have legal sex,” said Danish from Alternate Law Forum (ALF).

While only four participants came prepared, as the night set in, onlookers shared stories — from the ‘coming out’ story, the first kiss and a random encounter — and began to relate to them.
To end the day, at the Swabhava workspace, there were film screenings.

“We’ve film screenings every Saturday as we have a good collection of films that are not accessible in the mainstream. There’re three short films and a main film that looks at the gay community after the Stonewall incident. It is topical because two years after the judgment, we need to understand the gay movement evolved,” said Vinay Chandran, executive director, Swabhava, an NGO working with LGBT community.

While the movement is young, he said: “Social acceptance doesn’t come overnight. There are several battles to be fought against religion, interference into LGBT people’s lives and social moralism.” However, he signed off saying:“The repealing of Section 377 is a temporary win, but it is necessary to celebrate every little victory as it gives us a sense of what we are fighting for.”

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