Last edited: July 27, 2003

Kolkata Activists Highlight Gay Issues

Sify (India), July 23, 2003

Kolkata—Gay activists will take to the stage on Thursday in Kolkata in their latest bid to win more acceptance for homosexuality in India.

‘Kinara’, which translates roughly as ‘The River’s Edge’, centers on a dialogue between male partners growing up in rural India who mull the social stigma of same-sex love.

The Bengali-language play is open to the public and activists are distributing tickets free to the media in hopes of highlighting the cause.

“Gays are fighting for acceptance and peaceful coexistence in society,” said activist Rafiquel Haque Dowjah, who wrote and acts in ‘Kinara’.

“They want to make their presence felt and spread awareness about same-sex love in a conservative society like ours,” he said.

The play is part of a series of events in Calcutta aimed at increasing awareness about gay issues.

On June 29, more than 100 activists held a rare gay rights parade in the city coinciding with worldwide marches on the anniversary of New York’s 1969 Stonewall riots.

In the past month, gay groups here have also launched a music video and organized a panel discussion on the status of sexual minorities.

Calcutta in 1996 saw the premiere of India’s first gay-themed ballet, ‘The Alien Flower’.

The ballet, which chronicles a gay man’s life, was performed afterward across India and in Malaysia and Australia.

India’s courts are reviewing laws that, while rarely enforced, make consensual gay sex an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

While there are few open homosexual communities in most of India, Mumbai and Bangalore enjoy reputations as more hospitable to gays and lesbians.

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