OVER 300 people turned out on Saturday to celebrate the first LGBTI pride parade in the city of Lucknow, India.

Eighteen years after the country’s first pride event in Kolkata, members of the LGBTI community and straight friends walked the 1.5-km parade in solidarity.

Marchers waved rainbow flags and carried signs with messages including “I am gay and it’s okay” and “I am a queer Muslim, babes, get over it”.

“Lucknow was the epicentre of gay culture,” said Ashock Row Kavi, chair of India’s oldest LGBTI organisation, the Humsafar Trust.

“We are only keeping the tradition alive though the modern Indian political class is ashamed of it.”

Darvesh Singh Yadavendra, an organiser from the Awadh Pride Committee, said, “A country where queer people are free is truly free and everybody can walk with dignity, so we are here to celebrate diversity of gender and sexuality, against any discrimination.”

Homosexuality remains illegal in India, based on British colonial-era law that was reinstated in 2013. Hundreds were arrested under the law last year.

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