Last edited: December 18, 2004

City Homosexuals to March for Their Rights

Mid-Day, December 1, 2003
Mumbai, India

By A Mid Day Correspondent

The city’s gay and lesbian community will be out in full force this evening at Sion hospital. On the occasion of World AIDS Day today, homosexuals will take to the streets in a candlelight march to compel Mumbaikars to open their eyes to the community’s problems.

“The march is to highlight the ignorance and shame that surrounds homosexuality in India, and the resulting grave effects on the physical and mental health of the community,” said gay activist Ashok Row Kavi.

Geeta Kumana of Aachal, a lesbian NGO said that not only gays and lesbians but also heterosexuals would participate in the march.

Nitin Karani, guest editor of Bombay Dost, a publication catering to the homosexual community, said the march aimed to raise a debate over Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits “unnatural sex between the same sex, either male or female”.

“The section is forcing a lot of people to go underground and not reveal their true selves. The act makes it all the more difficult to teach them about safe sex and also to counsel them and inform them about testing centres,” said Karani.

Karani said the harm the act was causing was evident as estimates by the National AIDS Control Organisation reveal that around 16 to 20 per cent of the homosexual population in Mumbai is HIV positive.

The march will start from Sion hospital at 6.30 pm and will wind its way up to Maheshwari Udyan at Matunga.

Dr Hema Jerajani head of the department of dermatology and sexually transmitted infections at Sion hospital, will address the gathering.

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