KASHISH which means ‘attraction or allurement’ in Urdu does not have a gender or sexuality construct and is used to denote a deep attraction for anything – be it a person, an object or an idea.
Since its debut in 2010, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival has emerged as South Asia’s biggest LGBT film festival. The festival encourages a greater visibility of Indian and International queer cinema among both queer and mainstream audiences as a means to foster better understanding of queer thoughts, desires and expressions.
The Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai has been an active participant of the festival for three consecutive years and has committed to raising awareness and understanding of LGBT matters through community engagement.
This year’s theme “7 Shades of Love” highlights the message that at the core of human relationships is the capacity to love each other and offer respect so that each person can live with equality and dignity.
Canada showcased 11 short films, including three in the international film competition over the course of the five-day line-up which included 182 films from 53 countries.
Jordan Reeves, Consul General for Canada in Mumbai highlighted Canada's support for the human rights of LGBTI persons at the opening gala where chief guest Sir Ian McKellen and Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor were in attendance.
Canada was very well represented at the festival with a Montreal cabaret performance by Rita Baga, and Éric Pineault the founding president of Fierté Montréal. Fierté Montréal representatives visited both Delhi and Mumbai on a week of outreach to India’s LGBTI community. Sridhar Rangayan, Kashish festival founder and director, was invited to Montreal in August to serve as an international marshal for Montreal pride (Fierté Montréal).
Canada also supported a panel discussion entitled “the Way Ahead on Section 377” to provide concrete next steps for Indian businesses to consider the Indian penal code that criminalizes homosexuality.
The panel included activists Sonal Giani, Harish Iyer; lawyer, Vandana Shah; corporate representatives from Godrej Industries Udayan Dhar and Parmeshi Shahani and Mumbai Congress party member Chitra Batham. The panellists generally agreed that currently there is a window for advancement of LGBTI rights in India given recently judicial developments, but there are significant social and political challenges ahead. The Godrej representatives challenged other corporations, both Indian and multinational, to create a supportive environment for their LGBTI employees.
The Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai continues to support initiatives to engage with Mumbai’s LGBT Community. Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to be a global leader in human rights. Every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, deserves the opportunity to live freely.