“The pride walk is an open forum and anyone is welcome,” said Souvik of the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival, a non-profit collective of individuals and organizations who have come together to organize the walk since 2011.

“We will raise our voice against gender based violence,” he said. The Pride Walk will be a platform against the various forms of violence through which the patriarchal, homophobic and transphobic society stifles both women and other people who challenge social norms of gender and sexuality.

Kolkata, which hosted South Asia’s first pride walk in 1999, has emerged as a hub for queer activism over the years, embracing people who challenge normative structures of gender and sexuality, particularly transgender, kothi, hijra, lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The Pride Walks too have grown in strength from the handful of people in 1999 to more than a thousand last year.

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