Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 09:03 UK

Gay pride march debuts in Delhi

A  candlelight vigil after a "Queer Pride March" in Delhi on June 29, 2008
Homosexuality is illegal in India

Hundreds of gay rights supporters have marched in the Indian capital, Delhi, for the first time.

Gays, lesbians and transgender people gathered in the central Connaught Place area in what was the country's largest ever display of gay pride.

Activists also marched in the cities of Calcutta, which has seen similar events in the past, and Bangalore.

The marchers were demanding an end to discrimination in a society where homosexuality is still illegal.

The gay pride marches are a global event held in the last week of June every year.

They commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York which broke out after police raided a gay bar.

'Celebrating sexuality'

Marchers in Delhi on Sunday shouted "long live queer movement" and danced merrily and waved the rainbow flag, revered by sexual minorities around the world.


Scenes from the gay rights protest in Delhi

"This is for the first time Delhi is organising a pride festival to celebrate sexuality and people of all sexualities," student Mario Depeno was quoted by news agency Reuters as saying.

"Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and even straight are coming together here to talk and to celebrate, it's a party, to celebrate themselves," he said.

In the eastern city of Calcutta, thousands of people gathered to watch the march which has now become an annual event.

"This is a space, this is a public space, this is a space for reclaiming," Reuters quoted one participant, Anindya, as saying.

"This is a rally to reclaim our space, the right to live without violence, without coercion, the right to live freely with equality and with dignity," he said.

Homosexuality is illegal in India and various groups are lobbying the government and the courts for a change in the law, which has been in place for more than 145 years.

Brought in under British rule, the legal system recognises gay and lesbian relationships "as an unnatural offence".

In some Indian states people have taken their own lives because they have found the law unbearable.

The US-based group Human Rights Watch has also expressed concern about India's colonial-era law.

India's transgender talk show host
05 Mar 08 |  South Asia
Secret lives and woes of India's gays
21 Jul 06 |  South Asia
Fear and loathing in gay India
17 May 05 |  South Asia
India court rejects gay petition
02 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Gay Bombay comes out
19 Jun 03 |  South Asia
'Girlfriend' causes India storm
14 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Gay couple hold Hindu wedding
29 May 01 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific