Chandigarh is set to host the Pride parade on 8 March. This is the third time it will take place in the city, and coincides with International Women’s Day.

On 1 March, Jaipur witnessed its first Rajasthan Pride walk. The Chandigarh Pride walk is an annual march by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and hijra (LGBTIQH) communities, along with heterosexual allies.

Same sex relations are criminalized in the country through Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Saksham Trust, a community-based organization (CBO) that works in the field of rights and health for sexual minorities, has been organizing the Pride march since 2013. Its director Dhananjay Chauhan, 45, hopes that more students from Panjab University will participate this year.

The walk will start at the university’s Student Centre and will continue till the Sector 17 plaza.

Saksham Trust works to raise awareness among university students. “These are the future bureaucrats, IAS officers, policepersons. They should not say that they have never known or seen a transgender person. They need to understand what the community faces," says Chauhan, an HIV/AIDS outreach worker at Chandigarh’s Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.

Ayoushri Chauhan, 21, in the final year of her bachelor’s in biotechnology, plans to attend the Pride walk. For the past three months, she has been volunteering to increase awareness about the transgender community among fellow students at the Post Graduate Government College for Girls. “There is a misconception that people are like this because of a mistake. This is a human rights protest and the youth needs to get this misconception out of their head. As women, we too ask for equal rights. So why can’t transgender persons ask for it?" she says, drawing parallels with the women’s rights and queer rights movements.

When the first Pride parade took place in Chandigarh two years ago, more than 150 people are said to have taken part. This year, members of student organizations, including the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) and Students for Society (SFS), besides the elected students’ council, have extended their support, says Chauhan.