Category Archives: Press release

India’s 10 day Galaata Against Uganda’s Kill Gay Bill!

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On this World AIDS day 1st December 2012, the sexual minority groups in Mumbai under the aegis of Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM) protest the plight of our fellow community members in Uganda, now facing an imminent legislation where death sentences and life imprisonment are being contemplated by their Parliament.

The Indian LGBT communities condemn the government of Uganda and urge it to follow the directions of the UN Charter on Human Rights where LGBT citizens of a country must be treated equally without discrimination and freedom to follow their right to happiness. The Indian sexual minority communities urge the Ugandan government not to come under pressure from fundamentalist groups andlegislate discrimination against helpless and voiceless communities which only wish to exist in peace as a fundamental right.

The current HIV prevalence in Uganda is estimated at 6.5 percent among adults and 0.7 percent among children. HIV prevalence is higher in urban areas (10 percent) than rural areas (6 percent). An estimated 43 percent of new infections occur among people engaged in “mutually monogamous” heterosexual relationships. (ref: http://www.avert.org/)

Women are disproportionately affected, accounting for 57 percent of all adults living with HIV.

The number of new infections (an estimated 120,000 in 2009) exceeds the number of annual AIDS deaths (64,000 in 2009), and it is feared HIV prevalence in Uganda may be rising again.

In spite of the above statistics the Ugandan Government is pushing to implement an Anti –Gay bill that will only drive an already stigmatized population underground. In fact gay men find no mention in Uganda’s strategy for HIV prevention.

This will create fear of access to services and absence of health seeking behaviour amongst gay men and increase the HIV prevalence amongst them in a country where already there are one million people living with HIV.

QAM urges the Government of India and its Parliament to protest against the move by Ugandan Government to criminalize same-sex behaviour with all its other implications.

As an Indian community that is affected by similar Common Wealth Laws, we hope that the Indian Government continues to end discrimination against its LGBTI communities. We hope that the verdict in section 377 case be announced and positive steps to end the stigma and discrimination in India are followed.

QAM will meet on 1st December 2012 at The Humsafar Trust to be a part of the World AIDS day activity as well as participate in an HIV/AIDS march on 4th December 2012 to highlight the issue of discriminating laws and policies that devastate LGBTI communities in Uganda.

In view of the developments in Uganda and the health and human rights issues that it would raise, we have decided to protest from AIDS day to Human Rights day and our protest would be called

“India’s 10 day Galaata Against Uganda’s Kill Gay Bill”

‘Queer’ stands for all LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) as well as for Hijra, Kothi, Panthi individuals. This is a sexual minority group not accepted by Indian society that recognises only two genders and considers only heterosexual relationships valid. Queer Azaadi March(QAM) is an expression, a voice, a celebration and a platform to ask for equal rights of these individuals conducted in form of an annual parade in Mumbai. QAM also advocates for LGBTI equality through media, new age media and more importantly in real spaces.

Contact:
Pallav Patankar: 9619012251
Harish Iyer : 9833100340

Please find a PDF copy of this press release here.

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TEST OF PRIDE – QAM 2012 Fundraiser meets homophobia

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Queer Azaadi Mumbai, a collective of LGBT organizations and individuals in Mumbai had organized a fund raiser event which was collecting funds for organizing the QAM Pride walk in Mumbai to be held in Mumbai on 28th January 2012.

The fund raiser event was attended by self identified LGBT individuals and their supporters. The event started around 9:30 pm at a friendly lounge in Oshiwara, Mumbai and was on full swing until the police interrupted the party at 11:45 pm. The police had received a complaint from Mr. Ahmed Sahab Bawa who claimed that he is a prominent member of NCP and the event party was illegal as the necessary permissions were not taken. His vehicle showed sticker of NCP and the name plate mentioned him being the All India President of The All India International Human Rights organization.

The police first began speaking to the venue staff asking for the permission papers, while they were showing the permission slips Mr.Ahmed tried creating a panic by speaking on the phone stating ‘Media ko bulao’. He kept pointing fingers and stated that homosexuality is illegal and the party must be stopped immediately. Mr Ahmed had earlier walked into the party as a regular guest and had taken pictures and videos of the people without their permission in the party and threatened that this will be shared to the media. By this time the party had come to a standstill and the venue organizers announced that the party had to be stopped. Mr. Ahmed threatened that a case will be filed under sec 377 and his political party (NCP) has acquired a stay order against the Delhi high court judgment reading down sec 377. This of course was false information and the organizer brought that to his notice.   Mr. Vivek Anand (CEO, the Humsafar Trust) and Mr. Pallav Patankar (Director, HIV Programs – The Humsafar Trust) who were present at the party tried talking to Mr. Ahmed and the police to resolve the issue. Mr. Ahmed ignored all attempts to clarify the correct legal stand on Section 377 and about permissions for the party. On being addressed about his intention/motive behind the police complaint, he rushed to his car. On seeing that he was escaping the scene after disrupting a legitimate party around 40 party guests blocked his car from leaving the scene.

Police asked the crowd to move to Oshiwara Police station where both the sides would be heard.  Upon reaching, the party organizers and Mr. Vivek, Pallav, Sibi and Praful were made to wait for 1 hour, while Mr. Ahmed was in the station giving his statement. Mr.Ahmed was escorted by the police safely to his car and after which some members from the event party were allowed to give their statements to the police officers. The police assured that all the required permissions were in place and had acted only to verify the matter. The organizers and other members demanded that they wanted to have a face to face with Mr. Ahmed the police assured that he will be called to the station the next day and there can be face to face discussion with him. The media had arrived at the police station where some members of the LGBT community shared their experiences. The queer community is outraged that a fundamentalist like Mr. Ahmed can be allowed to disrupt a perfectly legal event with such ease. The queer community will not take this lying down and is prepared to take necessary legal actions against Mr. Ahmed who claims to be in charge of a Human Rights Organization in Panvel. He is also employed as his facebook profile claims by Islamic Human rights Commission UK. This incident had once again highlighted the importance of the Pride march and we will appeal to the entire LGBT community to come out in large numbers and make Pride Walk 2012 a big success. It’s all about us being ourselves and our right to exist as legal and responsible citizens of the largest democracy in the world.

For More Information Contact

Pallav Patankar : 9619012251

Sibi Mathen : 9867397744

Praful Baweja : 9870213831

Srini: 9833717720

QAM 2012 Fundraiser Party Faces Homophobia – Press Conference at 5 pm Today

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On behalf of QAM, The Humsafar Trust is arranging an urgent press conference at Humsafar Drop In Center, Vakola, Mumbai on January 14 2012 (today) at 5 pm. Please reach out to the press and inform as many of their members as possible.

Please turn up in large numbers! We need your support!

When : January 14, 2012 5 PM onwards

Where: Drop In Center, The Humsafar Trust, Third Floor, Manthan Plaza, Vakola, Santacruz (East), Mumbai.

Say ‘NO’ to homophobia and discrimination!

Queer Azaadi Zindabad!!


Personal account of yesterday’s events by Pallav Patankar:

Dear Qammers

The Gossip Fund Raiser party was held last night in Metro Lounge in Oshiwara. Gossip had a QAM fundraiser wherein every entry contributed Rs.100 towards QAM. The party had revved up enough numbers and people seemed comfortable in the disco area and the terrace above. At 11:45 pm Vivek , and I were about to leave the party when Sibi mentioned that there was an issue downstairs.

As we walked towards the exit we had the venue staff telling us that we could not leave since there were police outside. A guy wearing a pony tail, beard, kohl eyed and wearing a vest was standing there instructing the police to go and check on the party. His name is Haji Ahmed Sahab Bawa (HASB) claiming to be a member of the NCP. He also was showing videos that he had clicked inside the party.  He was threatening the venue staff that he would raise complaints against them and that seemed to have freaked them. There was confusion for some time as to whether we could leave or not. Some of us stood at the gate asking the cops the exact reason why they were present. The cops mentioned that they were checking on the venue’s permissions and seeing if everything was in order. Although the cops were not being very aggressive, HASB was giving directions to the cops as to what they should do.  He kept talking incessantly on the phone shouting “Media ko bulao!”.

Sibi tried to speak to the cops and HASB by mentioning that  we are doing nothing illegal and that section 377 reading down clearly states so. HASB mentioned that his party had ordered a stay in the Supreme Court against reading down of section 377 (factually incorrect). He kept threatening the police and the venue staff.

Vivek and I tried to understand from the police  what exactly the issue was but we were not getting any clear answers. We requested the police that we would like to address the issue at the police station and understand the reason why the party was being stopped. They mentioned that they were from Oshiwara Police Station. We ensured that all party goers be safely allowed to leave the venue and police co-operated. As we walked out there was a huge crowd that had collected on the street outside. HASB came out and I yelled out to him that we wanted to see him in the police station and understand his issues. He did not hear me and ran towards the car as I ran behind him yelling at him to come to Oshiwara Police station. He was accompanied by a guy who held me and pushed me away, I asked him if he was police, since he was in plainclothes. I told him that he had no proof that he was the police. He pushed me away again. I told him that he had no business touching me. The guy dashed along with HASB to the car and said that they were going to the police station. I told him that I did not believe that he is going to the police station and what if he got away. I went close to his car and started taking pics of HASB. By this time a crowd of 10-15 from the party had collected and had surrounded HASB’s car and refused to let him drive away. We took more pictures.  We finally let him drive away when we were assured by the uniformed police that the guy with him in the car was a policeman.

We went to the Oshiwara police station and saw HASB’s car waiting outside.  A crowd 30 people  from the party of collected outside Oshiwara Police station. Vivek, Praful, Sibi and I were allowed inside to talk to the police station. It was a long wait. HASB sat with the police inspector, Shirsat of Oshiwara police station and gave his complaint in writing. While HASB was with the police, the policeman in plainclothes got into an argument with us. He said that he would make an official complaint that he was attacked by the party goers. We calmed him down and explained that we were all homosexual men and we saw nothing wrong with that. We have a Pride March on the 28th which has valid police permissions and we are only fundraising for it. After that he calmed down and said that he was on duty and we were free to present our point of view to the police inspector. Then the police discussed the issue with the Gossip venue manager and asked him to “kill the issue”. The manager was extremely worried about his venue being in trouble and did not wish to make a big issue about the incident. He kept on asking us to back out. We refused saying that it was not about the venue but an issue about our identities being attacked, and that due care would be taken that the venue did not face any problems. We insisted that we speak to Inspector Shirsath. Sibi, Vivek and I presented ourselves at Shirsat’s table and discussed the issue. Shirsat mentioned that he had no problems with the party and there is no illegality with being gay. He quoted HASB and mentioned that he had asked HASB to produce documentary evidence that says that gay parties are illegal. Shirsath mentioned that ideally when a party is being organized there needs to be an intimation to the local police station about the party, they did not have it and hence they were obliged to act on a complaint by HASB. On the whole Shisrath was very cordial and apologized if on behalf of his police team there was any inconvenience caused to anyone.

Shirsath mentioned that there would be a meeting in Oshiwara Police station on Saturday along with HASB and someone, either Vivek or me maybe, called to present our point of view. HASB has filed an NC of damage to his car.

We asked Shirsath how we could file a complaint against HASB. Shirsath replied that he would give us his details and we could do the needful.

Outside the crowds were on the street till 2:30 am. We went out and apprised them of our conversations with the police. Mid Day and Times Now Reporters were outside for the story and the crowd of 30 faced the cameras to say that we were fundraising here and we were not scared anymore. We will fight this harassment and ensure that QAM 2012 is a success!

Back at Vivek’s house I could not sleep until I had typed this out.

Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM) : Pride March, 29th Jan 2011

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QAM_2011_logo venue_white

QAM March – Saturday, January 29, 2011

MARCH…… with Mumbai’s queer and straight supporters, family and friends on the 29th January, 2011 from August Kranti Maidan to Girgaum Chowpatty.

Time : 3PM (Assemble @ AK Maidan) to 6PM

Make your travel plans , apply for that leave, get your gear ready to flaunt it out in the Mumbai Pride March!

Please check out our QAM Facebook page and QAM blog for regular updates.

DONATIONS

Donations to take care of the expenses are welcomed.
You may have seen the donation box at the various GB events.

It is now possible to Donate ONLINE as well.

Click on the “Make A Donation” button and pay thru PAYPAL

DONATIONS are also collected at the following physical locations:

Ø Azaad Bazaar Store timing 1pm-9pm*
16th/33rd Road Bandra (West),
Opp Mini Punjab,
in the same lane as KFC ,
Mumbai

Ø The Humsafar Trust/Center for Excellence (CEFE)
Riviera CHS, Flat 1, Ground Floor
15th Road, Near RBI Colony
Santacruz (W) Mumbai 400 050

Ø at GayBombay hosted events (prior to the Azadi march)
Please donate generously.

THE BACKGROUND

On 16th August 2005, Mumbai witnessed a large-scale protest demonstration at Flora Fountain by several queer community groups and individuals. The activists erected a temporary structure and gave out leaflets and queer publications, and got many ordinary citizens to sign a petition for queer rights. The activists also carried placards, shouted slogans, sang songs of queer azaadi and held a candlelight vigil in memory those we had lost.

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28th January, 2011 : Panel Discussion on Gay Marriage

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On Saturday, January 29th, 2011 Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM) returns to Mumbai with a march by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals and groups, along with families, friends and supporters, to celebrate being part of this city, and to call on the government to give us the same rights guaranteed to all under the Indian constitution, whose promulgation we celebrate on Republic Day, January 26th.

The March will be from August Kranti Maidan to Girgaum Chowpatty, a route with great historical significance in our national freedom struggle. We will be meeting in August Kranti Maidan from 3 pm onwards, and starting the March at 4 pm.

Among the rights that queer people are calling for is the right to marry and enjoy the stability and protection of family life. Marriage is deeply engrained in Indian culture. Single people are looked at with suspicion or pity. Even strangers feel able to ask you casually if you are married, and feel sorry for you if you say you are not. When most gays and lesbian children come out to their families, the one biggest fear that their parents have is how will they manage without a long term partner.

Marriage also has practical aspects. Without marriage gays and lesbian couples cannot open a joint bank account, cannot apply for a home loan to buy a house together, cannot take out life insurance policies or make wills in each other’s benefit. If they work in companies which have employee family benefits, they usually cannot extent them to their same sex partner. If either of them falls sick and has to go to hospital, the partner does not have automatic rights to visit them.

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28th January, 2011 : Performance by Dancing Queen

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Come 28th January 2011 the stars in the sky above the amphitheater at the famous Carter Road, Bandra will have to shine harder to been seen, cos here come the Dancing Queens!

With the “jatkas” and “matkas” to shame the leading Sirens, yet the “grace” and “aada” to match the eternal Screen Queens…The people Mumbai brace yourself for this Visual treat!

Dancing Queens is coming together of 20 male dancers who impersonate as women and perform dance numbers of all time famous Diva’s of Hindi Cinema. The first performance of Dancing Queens was done as a fund raiser for Queer Azaadi Mumbai 2009. The show was supported by various Community Based Organisations and friends. But backed by ever growing vocal popular support, Its time for everyone to see the Diva’s put their Best foot forward to support this year’s Queer Azaadi March.

Performing the best of the folk dances, come with Family and friends , to witness the performance that will give the Munni’s and Sheila’s a run for their money. And oh yeah, its all for FREE!

Location : The Amphitheater, near café Coffee Day on Carter Road

Date : Friday, 28th January 2011

Time : 7:30 pm onwards

27th January, 2011 : Queer Gear for the Straight Ear

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Where: Carter Road Promenade – Amphitheatre, Khar, Mumbai
When: 27-JAN-2011, 7 pm – 9 pm

Queer Who All:

  • Kkris & Shor Bazaar
  • Alisha Batth & Alisha Pais
  • Anand Bhaskar & MH04

Listen to Mumbai’s best Queers and Queer supporter bands playing for QUeer Azaadi Mumbai’s Pride week this January.

An openly gay man and rock musician, Kkris and his group of queer-friendly Rockers have been playing in Mumbai for quite some time.

Shor Bazaar’s gigs include songs like “Savita Bhabhi” sung to India’s one and only ‘sex-icon’ on cartoons, who inspired the senses and sensual
desires of every straight man and lover. Their numbers are peppy and occasionally also comprise Hindi songs suited to younger audiences. Shor Bazaar is a five-member
band conceptualized / formalized / broughttogetherized in September’07.For more, visit Shor Bazaar at http://bazaarshor.blogspot.com/

Alisha Batth is the country’s budding Lesbian Punk performer. Although her lingua franca is English, her roots are in the North-East of India. And Alisha Pais is her ‘partner-in-crime’. They’re known to charm everyone with their vibrance, duo-dynamics and husky, yet sex vocal chords! Watch them sing Fiona Apple or Etheridge with a whiff of pink. Carter Road’s definitely gonna sway to these notes!

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26th January, 2011 : Ek Madhavbaug & Dancing Queens

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Ek Madhavbaug & Dancing Queens will be performed on 26th January 2011 as part of QAM Pride Week Celebrations and Fund raiser.

Venue : SNDT University Auditorium, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai

Time : 5.00 pm to 9 pm

Suggested Donation : Rs. 150 /- for the entire evening. Entire amount collected will be utilized towards meeting Pride Walk Expenses.

Seating capacity : 125 seats

Ek Madhavbaug is one of the pioneering Marathi language plays written on homosexuality and acceptance of the Gay community. The poignant play tells the story of a 21 year old youth coming to terms with his sexuality. The play is seen from the view point of his mother. The Mother discovers that her son is Gay and through his diary, relives his journey of discovery of his own sexuality.  The play strikingly brings out the emotions of a mother and son and will leave no soul untouched through its intensity and heartfelt content.

Chetan Datar had performed the original Marathi Play at the Humsafar Trust in 1998 and since then it was a dream that we shared with Chetan to translate the play into the hindi language and provide it a larger platform

The performance reading is done by actress Mona Ambegaonkar. She has given award winning performances and is still remembered for her work in television serials like KADAM, CID and AMBER-DHARA. Her films include MANGAL PANDEY, WHITE NOISE, and amongst her plays are KASTURI, RADHA-NIVAS, SITA-SURPANAKHA & SANDRA AND WHATEVER YOU SAY.

The hindi version of the play was first performed at Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010 at PVR Juhu in April 2010 to packed audiences and received standing ovation from the audiences

Do come with your friends and family if you want them to understand you better !

Dancing Queens is coming together of 20 male dancers who impersonate as women and perform dance numbers of all time famous Diva’s of Hindi Cinema. The first performance of Dancing Queens was done as a fund raiser for Queer Azaadi Mumbai 2009. The show was supported by various Community Based Organisations and friends. The show was a big success and nearly two-hundred friends (within and outside the community) attended and were entertained with mesmerizing performances. The show managed to raise Rs. 30,000/- for QAM 2009 in a single night. It also got coverage from leading news papers which brought visibility to the initiative.

Do come with your friends and friends of friends and their friends !

ALSO COME MAKE POSTERS FOR THE PRIDE WALK FROM 5PM TO 6PM AT THE SAME VENUE

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24th January, 2011 : Screening of KASHISH Queer Shorts @ Cafe Goa

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For all those of you who missed it last April, KASHISH brings back a collection of the ‘BEST of KASHISH 2010’ in celebration of Queer Pride Week.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in association with Bombay Elektrik project and Queer Azadi Mumbai will screen 8 queer short films from across the world spanning Gay, Lesbian and Transgender experiences that are funny, campy, dramatic, emotional and fabulous!

Be there at Café Goa, Bandra January 24th 8pm – 11.30pm to catch up on the KASHISH dose of queer cinema.

BOY MEETS BOY | Korea / 2008 / 13 min

BUTTERY TOP | USA / 2009 / 4 min

ENGAYGING LIVES | India / 2010 / 26 min

GINGER GORA AND THE GENTLES | UK / 2006 / 13 min

I AM GAY | Sweden / 2008 / 15 min

MAKE UPS | India / 2005 / 9 min

MIRROR MIRROR | Australia / 1997 / 10 min

THE POSTCARD | Korea / 2007 / 15 min

Date: January 24, 2011

Venue: Café Goa, Agnelo Building, Khadeshwari Mandir Marg, Off St. John Baptist Road, Bandra(W), Mumbai, Ph: 022 26459151

Link: http://tiny.cc/ec473

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