Is Delhi India’s Most Queer-Friendly City?

by Yashasvi Shaktawat
Is Delhi India’s Most Queer-Friendly City?

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Which is India’s most queer-friendly destination? Delhi holds one of the largest pride parades and boasts numerous gay-friendly cafes, but is it really the most queer-friendly destination in India?

What Is It?

India in September 2018 created history by scrapping out parts of section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalised homosexual sex between consenting adults. This horrendous law was earlier used as a way to objectify and harass the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals in India.

In a fight against breaking all the barriers and coming out in the open, a lot of people have emerged from the closet and felt comfortable about expressing their sexuality. The two cities that have been the most prominent in showing constant support towards the gay community in India are Delhi and Mumbai, but how friendly are they really in their approach towards the queer?

In a constant battle between Delhi and Mumbai in choosing which city is more approachable, modern and futuristic in terms of economic, political and social conditions, Delhi might seem to have topped this one. Delhi and Mumbai both have their pros and cons and one can never seem to find a consensus in the debate as to which one’s better than the other, but let’s have a close look at both the cities when it comes to the LGBTQ decorum and their approach towards it.

While Mumbai is believed to be the most progressive city in India and around the world too, the youth is extremely supportive of the LGBT cause. The Mumbai Queer Film Festival is an example of Mumbai’s friendliness towards the queer. The festival is dedicated to screening gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer films that help in bringing about a social change in the mindset of the audience. Every year, Mumbai hosts the pride parade or Queer Azadi March that is held in the city to support LGBT. The tourism seems to blossom during special events and gatherings and hotels are even looking forward to a boost in their business after being open towards their approach in the LGBT. The diversity, the culture and the style here is like no other place.

Whereas, Delhi was the first city to take a step in ensuring that millions of voices are heard. The ‘political capital’ of India answered all prayers of the rainbow flag bearers when the Delhi High Court declared the controversial Section 377 as unconstitutional and violative of the fundamental right to equality and freedom. Delhi also holds one of the largest pride parades in India and it is held around November end. You can find the LGBT community thronging Pallika Park at Connaught Place every Sunday evening, people come here to catch up with friends or make new friends in a warm environment.

The Mister & art House is India’s first boutique guest house and art gallery for gay men only and it is in Delhi. The owner of this place, Sanjay Malhotra also owns a gay-friendly travel website that organizes tours and customizes itineraries for gay international tourists who come to explore India. According to Sanjay, Delhi is the most queer-friendly city in India, there are parties held every week at posh hotels and every weekend you can go out gay party hopping at clubs in Delhi. While Mumbai, on the other hand, has just one party on a weekend hosted at one or two LGBT friendly hotels. Delhi boasts numerous gay-friendly cafes, bars and clubs that open doors to the queer and give them space where they find some comfort. Media and politics too have a role to play in Delhi being the friendly destination to queer visitors as the capital city is also the base of the national media which contributes to a lot of friendly

While Mumbai might seem to have a holistic approach, but there’s certainly a lot more going on in the capital city of India. Gay-friendly cafes and bars, meetups, poetry sessions, open-mic gatherings and healthy discussions where journalists, artists and diplomats all unite for one reason – love for all and in all its forms, leaves us asking the question is Delhi, the capital city of India, the most queer-friendly city of the country?