The Indian coastal town of Goa is currently preparing for its first ever Pride event this weekend.
Organiser Alexander Fernandes is hoping the event will help change attitudes towards LGBT+ people in the region where it is estimated 80% of the LGBT+ community is still in the closet.
Along with the parade, there will also be an LGBT+ film festival and beach party.
“It is happening for the first time in Goa. We want to create awareness about the rights of the LGBT community,” Fernandes told the Indian Express.
“There are several wrong notions about the community, which need to be addressed through this event.”
Fernandes also wants the parade to remind the wider society in Goa and India that LGBT+ have rights too.
“We hope this walk will get rid of homophobia in some way,” he told itsgoa.com.
“We want people to know that we are not harmful or ‘bad people’. We deserve respect like anyone else, and that we too have human rights.
“People are skeptical about admitting that they belong to the LGBT community… we want to tell the world that it is absolutely okay to be an LGBT.
“They are not the people, who harm others as is presumed.”
Fernandes added that for those who want to march but also keep their identities secret, they will be allowed to wear masks.
However, like other Pride events across India, there is a strict rule that prohibits anyone from wearing a costume depicting a religious or political figure during the parade.
Meanwhile, India is currently deciding whether to go forward with a new proposed plan for a Uniform Civil Code.
The idea is to bring together the country’s many different religious groups and create a common public law for them all to follow.
The Uniform Civil Code would affect laws around marriage, divorce, inheritance and parenting, and would be a massive overhaul for India’s legal system.
India’s Law Commission asked a group of citizens to research and put together a draft for the proposed code last year.
They have now come to state that current laws are “not always equitable and fair and do discriminate on the grounds of sex, gender and sexuality”.
To rectify this issue, they have proposed with this new civil code that citizens should have “equal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody, guardianship, inheritance and succession… irrespective of their gender, sex and sexuality, religious or cultural traditions or beliefs”.
If it’s successful, it could see the country legalise same-sex marriages.
Hopefully, this is also a step in the right direction for India to re-decriminalise same-sex activities as they did in 2009, but it was revoked in 2013 with 95% of people supporting the decriminalisation of same-sex relations.