Minutes of meeting about proposed ‘Pride march’ (to be organized on 16th August) called by Geeta Kumana on 5th July 2008 at the Humsafar Cefe office at 5 pm.
Girish, ALAYAS and The Humsafar Trust (Humsafar)
Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, Astitva
Sachin Jain, GayBombay (GB)
Nitin Karani, Humsafar
Vivek Anand, Humsafar
Alifia, Rainbow Pride Collective (‘RPC’)
Pawan, Sarathi (Nagpur)
Seema, Sakhi Char Chowghi
Shankar, Sakhi Char Chowghi
Ashok Row Kavi (ARK), UNAIDS
Geeta: “Viki and me had a talk and came up with some discussion points. (These and other points suggested by LABIA and GB were circulated among those present.) If Humsafar can share their experience of the marches they have organised so far….
Girish: Responsibilities for various things like permissions, community mobilization and logistics are divided among ad-hoc groups of participants. The previous walks have been between various points but mostly S’cruz Stn to HST Vakola office, Mahim-Bandra and Sion Hospital to M Udyan. Participants meet regularly to organise these marches. Security is provided by the police including the presence of a police van. It takes a few days to get the various permissions but the earlier we start the process the better it is.
ARK: There was a lot of police protection for the Delhi march. Initially the cops outnumbered the marchers but the number of marchers grew as we went along.
Discussion on possible routes, date, timing, permissions, end-event, etc
Sachin suggested Flora Fountain to Gateway and VT to Flora Fountain, mainly because he felt Fountain (Hutatma Chowk) has a historical context (the first 16th August queer protest demo was held there; Flora Foutain, ie Hutatma Chowk [‘Martyrs’ square] commemorates members of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, who lost their lives when police fired upon their peaceful demonstration.)
We got sidetracked to a discussion about the tentative date of the event. Some have already said informally before this meeting that they are working on 16th August (it’s a Saturday) and therefore the march should be on the following day, i.e. Sunday. ARK said, and it was generally felt, that if it’s a working day, there’s more impact. We fixed Saturday 16th August 2008 after discussion.
Sachin said we could march in the suburbs instead. Someone suggested Bandra. ARK: We need an open space like a park to end the march (and hold a candelight vigil) and a good route to march. Someone suggested Marine Drive where some years ago women’s groups had held a successful anti-rape protest (the rape had occurred in a police chowky on Marine Drive).
A music band will march along with participants. The candlelight vigil will take place if weather permits. There will be dances at Chowpatty, where a temporary structure will be constructed.
The discussion finalised three possible routes with the first the most preferred one:
1. August Kranti maidan to Girgaum Chowpatty (August Kranti maidan or Gowalia Tank was where M K Gandhi issued a call on 8th August 1942 for the British to quit India, which led to the launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement).
2 Air India building (Nariman Point) to Girgaum Chowpatty.
3. Flora Fountain to Girgaum Chowpatty
Assembly time: 3 p.m.
March begins: 4 p.m.
Duration: About 3 hours.
HST was delegated the task of obtaining permissions and asked to report back in a week on the progress.
Focus of the march
ARK: We should also talk about the draconian ITPA which has a ridiculous provision of charging the sex worker’s client.
Lakshmi, Vivek and Alifia: No, we shouldn’t lose focus of queer issues.
Vivek: Whatever the name, the focus is homosexuality. We can invite sex workers to march as supporters. Supporters can also include family, heterosexual friends, doctors, medical fraternity, academics, etc.
Lakshmi and ARK: Celebs should be mobilized. Call them to be there at the end of the walk.
Geeta: They will hog the limelight.
ARK: We need Queer Media Collective support.
Chayanika: Sex workers can be included as they also can be counted as people of marginalized sexualities.
Sachin: Important to get as many people as possible.
ARK: Include supporters in the march so that we mainstream our sexuality. We’ll brief them.
Chayanika: Talk about forced marriages, anti-discrimination laws
Laxmi: Our (hijra) community will have a focused group discussion and come back with issues.
ARK: Talk about aversion therapy, women’s rights and the ridiculous rape laws.
LABIA will get in touch with women’s groups and human rights groups to ask them for support.
ARK: Humsafar and I will get in touch with doctors, healthcare givers, psychiatrists, etc
Geeta: will get in touch with lesbian groups with the help of RPC.
The consensus was that the focus should be on queer issues (not ITPA, rape laws, etc) and that people outside queer communities should be invited to march as supporters. We need to compile and work on the list.
Vivek: Bring in whatever individuals within our communities can give: Rs100, Rs500, Rs1,000. HST and GB can pledge some money too. Whatever can be mobilized can be brought to the next meeting.
Vivek will ask MDACS and ARK will ask UNAIDS for money.
ARK: We should be able to raise Rs40,000-50,000 and that should be enough.
Geeta volunteered to ask funding agencies like MAMACASH, ASTRAEA and Global Fund for Women for funds.
Shankar from HST has volunteered to maintain the accounts.
Suggestions included names that included ‘Gayzaadi’, which was quite popular, ‘Pink Freedom’, and names that included the words ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Pride’. Laxmi strongly objected to ‘Gayzaadi’ as it wasn’t inclusive. The majority vote went to ‘Queer Azaadi’.
One common double-sided, one-colour leaflet for the event in Hindi, English and Marathi, that will talk about all queer issues will be distributed at the march. LABIA and Sachin will draft the leaflet.
Groups can also distribute whatever printed material’s already available with them. HST volunteered to distribute their leaflet, ‘Answers to your questions on Homosexuality’ which is designed for the lay person.
Placards, slogans, songs, banners, posters, masks, etc
We’ll have a placard/posters-making day closer to the event at this same meeting venue. Humsafar boys will write songs specially for this event. Groups can bring their own banners. Sabina can make rainbow flags and masks. She could sell the masks.
Geeta volunteered to continue as event coordinator.
Nitin was tasked with setting up a blog for ‘Queer Azaadi’.