September 20, 2018

In the aftermath of India’s historic ruling on gay sex, organizers plan first-ever Queer Literature Festival in Uttar Pradesh

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The State of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India

On Thursday, September 6th, the Supreme Court of India unanimously declared unconstitutional that the country’s 150 year old ban on consensual gay sex. It was a momentous decision, one which had a profound and immediate effect on India’s LGBTQ citizens. And for many Indians, it was merely the tip of the spear, the first victory in what may be a long campaign for full equality under the law and in the eyes of Indian society at large. As Anurag Kalia a petitioner in the historic case, told Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj at the New York Times, “It feels like there’s much more to come. This is just the first strike.”

On August 30th, less than a week before the court gave its decision, Yusra Hussain at the Times of India reported that organizers operating as the Awahd Queer Committee (AQC) were planning the first-ever celebration of LGBTQ literature, the Awahd Queer Literature Festival (AQLF), to be held in Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. According the AQLF website, the event will be the first of its kind in all of Asia, and will aim to “connect queer people (LGBTIQ+) across India through literary experiences that inspire, educate and entertain.”

Agni, Hindu god of fire, who had a same sex relationship with Soma, the god of the moon.

In the aftermath of the legalization of same sex intercourse, the festival has taken on increased significance, and will be a celebration not only of queer literatures, but of the historic victory of September 6th. According to a report in Australia’s Books and Publishing blog, The AQC had previously organized the states first pride walk and first queer film festival, and are racing to have the festival organized by this November.

For those who can’t attend, or can’t wait, the Committee has already opened a website where Indian authors can submit writing, and where readers can survey a selection of the writing to be featured at the festival in November.

 

 

Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.

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