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Mumbai – ‘Queer Azadi March’ protests against forced reconversions #Gharwapsi


People at the annual ‘Pride March’ in Mumbai<br />
on Saturday. Photo: Vivek Bendre

People at the annual ‘Pride March’ in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo: Vivek Bendre

As hundreds walked the streets of Mumbai on Saturday in the annual ‘Queer Azadi March’ demanding equality, the daring political sloganeering against the ‘forced ghar vapsi’ did make thousands of heads turn in curious attention.

The march which till now had kept politics away made it a point that neither religion nor sexuality nor gender can be forced upon someone. “It’s a matter of personal choice and an individual’s choice must be respected,” said Chayanika Shah, activist with LABIA — A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, one of the supporting organisations for the march.

From 2011, QAM began conducting a week full of festivities and events in different pockets of Mumbai from movie screenings, flash mob, plays, meet-the-author to drag shows, street performances and mela and, finally, the Pride March which saw thousands of queer individuals take part to assert their human rights of equality in the eyes of law and society.

“For us, it’s always been a political struggle. One cannot see queer pride without talking about the political climate. And the focus of which today is religion,” said Ms. Shah.

“Ghar vapsi, whether in a religious term or about gender and sexuality, should be an individual’s choice. No political force should be used in deciding these issues and that is the reason why we have raised this issue,” she added.

The processionists raised slogans such as ‘Gender, Sexuality, Dharm: Where I’m respected, that is my Ghar’ and with stickers asking people to state their assigned religion and gender and what is the real one.

The participants said that while the choices around gender issues are denied, campaigns such as ‘Bahu Lao, Beti Bachao’ were attempts to control the sexuality. Right from protests against the insensitive depiction of queer individuals in the media to organising community events that addressed awareness issues, QAM has remained at the forefront of many such activities in the last several years


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