Thousands of people participated in a pride event in New Delhi, India on Sunday after the country’s Supreme Court declined to legalize same-sex marriage. According to AP, “dancing to drums and music, the participants walked for more than two hours to the Jantar Mantar area near India’s Parliament. They held banners reading “Equality For All,” “Pride Not Prejudice,” and “Queer And Proud,” and walked with a shroud of rainbow balloons arching over them.
The Supreme Court refused to legalize same-sex marriage claiming that it was ultimately Parliament’s responsibility to make the law. Prior to the decision, the Supreme Court saw 21 petitions from LGBTQ+ activists who were fighting for legal recognition for their union along with official marital rights.
Many of the petitions simply asked the words “man” and “woman” to be replaced with “spouse” in the Special Marriage Act. This bill, which allows marriage between people from different religions, castes, and countries, falls short of granting the LGBTQ+ community the right to officially recognize unions.
Historically, the Indian government has opposed LGBTQ+ rights and homosexuality was criminalized under the Indian Penal Code under Section 377. In 2018, the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex, which had been a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The law was decriminalized with the help of grassroots organizations like The Queer Muslim Project, PeriFerry, and QueerGarh. Queer activists in India continue to fight for their basic rights and NGOs throughout the country continue to support and fight for LGBTQ+ Indians.