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Tenth Guwahati Pride March On Dec 17, Queer Community Seeks More Acceptance

‘Visibility In All Verticals Of Society Is Something We Have Gained Through This Event To An Extent’

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GUWAHATI, Dec 15: Visibility and greater acceptance of the Queer community have been among the key achievements of the Pride March in Guwahati as it steps into its 10th edition this year, activists associated with the event claimed on Friday.

From a handful of people coming out and identifying themselves as part of the Queer community during the first Pride March in 2014 to innumerable ones now looking forward to join it openly has been another milestone, they said.

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However, in terms of general awareness about people with different sexual orientations or preferences and accessible specialised medical facilities, including mental healthcare, are among issues with which the community is still grappling, the activists maintained.

“When we organised the first Pride March in February 2014, I was perhaps the most open about my sexuality. It even led to backlash from some family members. Ten years later, we are expecting about 1,000 participants with most of them being from the Queer community,” Milin Dutta of Anaajoree, a group working on various social issues, said at a press conference here.

He said around 150 people had participated in the maiden pride parade here 10 years ago, which was also the first such event to be organised in the Northeastern region.

Since then, such events have been held in around 10 districts of Assam including Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Morigaon.

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The annual parade, scheduled on December 17, is being organised by Queer Pride Guwahati, a collective of Queer-identifying volunteers and allies. More than 1,000 people, including over 850 Queer people, are likely to take part in the march, the organisers said.

Pinky, associated with Humsafar Trust, said visibility of Queer people in all verticals of society has been an important achievement through the annual walk.

“In the initial years, even those who walked with us had to face backlash, even death threats. Participants would wear masks to cover their identity. But now, our supporters can come out more openly. Visibility in all verticals of society is something we have gained through this event to an extent,” she said.

Pinky said the involvement of youth and proliferation of digital media has also helped in creating greater awareness and acceptance about the Queer community.

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“Discrimination has come down to a great extent. But much is yet to be achieved, especially in terms of research on the community though initiatives are happening now,” she added.

Dutta said access to proper medical care by members of the Queer community is an important aspect on which much is yet to be achieved.

“We have held discussions with Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) doctors and they have been supportive. Psychological care is a vital support needed, and members of the community are now availing it at GMCH,” he said.

Dutta said his organisation and others working in the sphere are in talks to bring more government and private hospitals on board in this regard.

He added that endocrinology and surgery are two other specific medical departments in which Queer people need help, and hoped that more facilities will be available here soon.

Addressing the press meet, Bargav Das of Xobdo said, “Our main goal has been to create dialogue among Queer youth of Assam in order to uphold their dignity.”

The activists also emphasised on the role of media in creating greater sensitivity among the people, especially highlighting the need for use of proper terminology while reporting on LGBTQIA+ community. (PTI)

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