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After a four-year hiatus, the Mumbai Pride March made its much-awaited return to the city on February 3rd. The event saw participants marching through Gamdevi in South Mumbai, rallying for the recognition and advancement of queer rights in India.

The parade, as reported by Free Press Journal, anticipated the attendance of about 1,000 individuals. This gathering was particularly significant as the LGBTQ+ community continues to advocate for essential rights, including the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the South Asian nation.

Sudhanshu Latad, the advocacy manager for The Humsafar Trust, shared with Hindustan Times the march’s objective: to bolster the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community, initiate public discourse on queer issues, and cultivate safe environments for community members. Latad emphasised the importance of public engagement, noting that the sight of the parade and rainbow flags often encourages bystanders to join in and engage in conversations about LGBTQ+ rights.

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The previous Pride parade in Mumbai took place in early 2019, attracting over 8,000 attendees. Since then, logistical challenges, including difficulties in securing police permissions and the global pandemic, had prevented the organisation of subsequent marches.

In October 2023, the Supreme Court of India delivered a verdict against legalising same-sex marriage, following a prolonged advocacy campaign supported by the public for legal reform. The court, comprising a five-judge bench including the Chief Justice of India, issued a split decision, with four separate judgments culminating in a 2-3 vote against recognising same-sex marriages. The judges stated that the decision to legalise same-sex marriage falls within the legislative domain, not the judiciary’s.

Despite this setback, the Supreme Court underscored the LGBTQ+ community’s right to live free from bias and discrimination. Additionally, the court directed the government to take measures to prevent discrimination against the queer community, raise public awareness of queer rights, establish safe houses, create a hotline for LGBTQ+ individuals, and acknowledge citizens’ rights to unite with their life partners.

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