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A proud celebration of LGBT identity

Chennai Rainbow Parade sees over 300 participants congregate on the Marina

CHENNAI: The Marina beach wore a festive look on Sunday morning, as over 300 members of the LGBT community, along with their family members and supporters marched on its shores, waving flags of different colours, holding banners and swaying to drum beats, at the Chennai Rainbow Parade.

Many of them, with their faces covered with multi-hued masks or flaunting ‘wings', raised slogans on the need to implement universal human rights for everybody. And others let their placards with the words ‘Homosexuality is not an illness, homophobia is,' ‘Born this way,' and ‘Straight but not narrow' do the talking.

The event marked the culmination of events, including panel discussions, sensitisation programmes, groups meetings and film screenings highlighting the concerns of the LGBT community, organised by several NGOS this month.

The participants emphasised the urgent need for the Supreme Court to uphold the historic verdict of July 2009 in which the Delhi High Court read down IPC Section 377 (unnatural offences) to exclude consensual relationships among adults of the same sex.

The recent decision by the New York State to legalise same-sex marriages, and the United Nations' resolution to protect and uphold gay rights universally announced recently show the world is eventually getting sensitive to different needs, said Anandaroopa, a participant.

Expressing his solidarity with the community, U.S. Consul General in Chennai Andrew T. Simkin said “Gay rights are human rights. It is basically respecting each others' differences and an individual's right to live without fear.” The pride march, according to Sunil Menon, founder-director, Sahodaran, is to spread awareness in the society of the rights of sexual minorities.

Awareness has to be generated among medical professionals who still use reparative and shock therapies in an attempt to realign the sexual orientation of LGBT people, said the participating activists.

Helpline

“Many LGBT people experience guilt all the time because the society does not accept them. Sometimes, parents themselves force such treatments on their children,” said Magdalene Jeyaratnam, director, Centre for Counselling. Regular family support meetings and counselling helps a great deal, she said, adding, “There is help available now, LGBT people who wish to talk can always call 9884700164, a helpline for them.

L. Ramakrishnan, Country Director, SAATHI, Shiva Kumar of Sangama and Kalki Subramaniam, Founder/Director. Sahodari Foundation, also participated.

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