Supporting LGBT rights in India

The Pink Singers ran a year-long project to highlight LGBT rights in India, in partnership with India’s first ever LGBT choir, Rainbow Voices Mumbai.

What were our goals?

In 2015, we made contact with a brand new choir in India, Rainbow Voices Mumbai (RVM). We heard about their passion for making music, how they work together and support each other, and their struggles in a hostile environment for LGBT people. We were inspired to reach out the hand of friendship.

As a charity the Pink Singers has worked with many LGBT choirs in the UK and around the world to support their work, to march together in Pride and to sing a shared message when words alone are not enough. 

In India, section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises homosexuality, with a version of the same law which existed in the UK until 1967. It was introduced under British rule in 1862 and to this day carries the threat of a decade in prison, and daily fear and discrimination. Individuals are blackmailed by the police so that, in exchange for money, their secret will be kept.

“This space, as a bisexual woman is a safe space for me. When we’re singing, it’s the only moment we feel ourselves.” – Manasie Manoj, member of RVM

So together with RVM, we planned a project to raise awareness about the reality of being queer in India; sharing music and culture by performing together in both our home cities. We aimed to:

  • Raise awareness about the status of LGBT rights both in India and the UK, encouraging communities from both countries to support equal rights and status for LGBT people.
  • Share music and culture of the Pink Singers with RVM, and vice versa, encouraging the choirs to develop and grow, to give LGBT people a space and a strong community to support vulnerable people at risk of isolation and harm.
  • Present joint concerts to generate positive press coverage in India and the UK, raising RVM’s profile, helping to establish their music as a vital part of the city’s cultural offer.

What we did

Part 1: Queer India Today Seminar

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We organised a seminar featuring three academics from the School of African and Oriental Studies in London and members of the Pink Singers and RVM (by Skype!).

This helped us understand the similarities and differences between us, the language used, the history of section 377 being repealed and then re-introduced 4 years later. In the early stages of this work, this was important, to know just what the situation was in India, and how, if, we could help.

Part 2: Visit to perform and march in Mumbai

In January 2017, 39 Pink Singers visited Mumbai and finally met RVM in person. They welcomed us to their city, we shared stories and experienced Pride in a city without acceptance, where the participants were celebrating, but bystanders looked on, seemingly not understanding why we were there.

Our joint concert “We Shall Overcome” at the prestigious National Centre for Performing Arts was sold out, including emotional joint renditions of the title song, and “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. The songs took on new significance in the context of our project. This was the first time RVM had organised a concert of their very own. Ashish told us:

“it brought out leadership qualities, creative and administrative abilities of choir members. We were struck that almost no families came to support the concert. One RVM member told how his parents planned to come, until they knew their son was singing with an LGBT group.

Below is a short video of our joint concert at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai.

We also joined hand in hand with Rainbow Voices Mumbai at Mumbai Pride, Queer Azaadi Mumbai.

“The Pinkies crossed the ocean to high-five and greet us like visiting family. They reminded us of the sublime words of John Mayer and Katy Perry, ‘You love who you love who you love’.” Read more on what RVM’s  Siddhy had to say after reflecting on his experience following the Pinkies’ visit to Mumbai… 

“Singing with and listening to the members of Rainbow Voices Mumbai was truly uplifting. Being able to spend time singing, listening, talking, and sharing stories and experiences made me realise that although we live many miles apart, we can still find common ground”. Click here to read Pinkie Claire’s blog. 

“We felt accepted as we declared to the world, “I was born this way and I am not ashamed”. RVM member Aniruddha tells us about meeting the Pinkies for the first time, and feeling uplifted in the battle against Section 377, the law which criminalises homosexuality in India. Read more…

“The joint ”We Shall Overcome” concert was an emotional rollercoaster for many of us: every song sung by both choirs took on an added significance. When we sang an a capella version of “We Shall Overcome” together in English and Hindi, it was a moving show of defiance and solidarity from which I could not hold back my tears”. Pinkie Hsien shares his experience.

Part 3: Performing on stage at Pride in London, 2017

The final part of the project was the most complex, but in many ways the most important. After all the fundraising efforts, Skype meetings and long conversations with the UK visa office in Mumbai, we succeeded in bringing 11 members of RVM to London.  Most of the group had never left India before so every aspect of the visit was new and exciting.

We hosted the choir in our homes, showed them the sights of London and shared Pride week together, in our city full of rainbows.

“The first time ever I flew across oceans and lands so far beyond my reach to explore freedom and equality”

It was a pleasure to bring Rainbow Voices Mumbai to the Pride in London stage in Trafalgar Square: where all of London fell in love with them too. 

As a finale to the project, Rainbow Voices Mumbai also joined us for our summer concert at Cadogan Hall and performed to a packed audience of 800, receiving multiple standing ovations.

What was achieved through this work?

The UK partially decriminalised homosexuality in 1967, and since then we’ve come a long way in gaining acceptance, most recently with legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013.

In London, RVM members could see how life could be, with freedom; it gave them hope to see same-sex partners living openly together.
They gained renewed determination to improve the situation for their community in India. Two singers, Anand and Mak, sat in a restaurant in Covent Garden holding hands and talked about how in India they could only do this at home when nobody is around, for fear of being seen.

They saw the support shown across the city for our Pride celebration, with businesses and tube stations emblazoned with rainbows in support of our freedom.  

“It is soothing to imagine those who’re free, liberating to meet them” – Siddhy

Working alongside the Pink Singers was a learning experience for RVM, in rehearsals and preparation for our summer concert.

“It made the singing more effective and  everyone leaned towards getting better to share the stage with you all”. – RVM member

They have returned to India with new ambition: planning to grow the numbers in the choir, to perform at queer events and to be known for their music, to inspire others to use music as a tool to spread awareness and join in the fight against section 377. They want to do more to highlight LGBT rights and visibility in India, to make their country more diverse and inclusive of all.

Media coverage

  • Interviews with members of both choirs during London Pride, on New Delhi TV

We achieved our goal of raising awareness of this issue, with TV, radio and print pieces as well as online articles and blogs in both countries. Talking about the issues and their experiences boosted the confidence of choir members to advocate for their rights and hopes for the future.

“It has made me stronger; a firm believer and an optimist with regards to the support we can achieve. Despite all the hurdles we’re determined to be what we are and make a difference to the world in every possible way we can.” – Ashish, member of RVM

Reflecting on the project

The challenges we faced
We aimed to bring every member of RVM to London although we encountered issues with visas, which meant that unfortunately not all members could join us. We countered this by including members left in Mumbai through a social group on Facebook and asking them to contribute to blog posts and media articles for the project.

What is the future of the project?
After this experience, RVM are more well known in India and have been featured in a number of news pieces about section 377. They continue their fight to effect change for LGBT communities in India, with the Pink Singers’ support from the UK. On a local level, they plan to grow the number of people in the choir significantly over the next three years, to build their community and profile. They aim to inspire others through their music to fight alongside them for equality.

The Pink Singers will stay in touch with RVM, supporting when we can with the development of their community, and in their plans to achieve equality.  

On behalf of the Pink Singers and Rainbow Voices Mumbai, THANK YOU for your support in making this project happen. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Want to support us financially on an ongoing basis? Please take a look at joining our Friends scheme.

Thanks to

Silicon Valley Community Foundation
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With thanks to the Friends of the Pink Singers, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and to Rigour Research for their financial support to make this project a reality.

Timeline datestamp: 16 January 2017

Rainbow Voices Mumbai – Making Music in 377 India

Philip VinodhThis year the Pink Singers are working to support LGBT rights in India with a series of joint concerts with Rainbow Voices Mumbai, in both our home cities, sharing music and raising awareness of LGBT issues.

Forty-two intrepid Pinkies will visit Mumbai this January, to join Rainbow Voices for a joint concert at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai and to march in the Pride parade, Queer Azaadi, alongside our Indian friends. We plan to follow this with RVM members making a return trip to London this summer to join us for our next concert and to march alongside us at London Pride.

Many in our choir have experienced discrimination because of our sexuality, gender or gender identification; some have faced homophobic abuse and violence. We understand the need for community spaces where LGBT people can feel safe, understood and accepted. Our choir is that space for many of us and we feel stronger for being part of a supportive group who meet regularly and share music. We want to share that with others who don’t have a safe space, to encourage them to set up groups of their own.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was introduced in 1862 under British rule, banning same sex relationships, punishable by a 10-year prison sentence. This law was used in the UK to prosecute gay men with penalties including hard labour and chemical castration, given to Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. This law remains long after Indian independence, and violence and discrimination against gay people in India prevails.

MumbaiVinodh Philip, Founder of India’s first LGBT choir tells us about their experience:

“I’ve lived through the times when the Delhi High Court decriminalised Section 377 in 2009 and then I’ve lived through the harrowing time when the Supreme Court reinstated Section 377. In 2009 after the High Court verdict, so many gay friends came out and started living together boldly. There was a sense of freedom. It also put an end to police harassment, throwing people in jail and extortion, which was so widespread. The police would stand around in cruising places and go to the extent of luring a gay man to him, then stop him and say, “I’m a cop and I’m booking you under 377”. The police who were supposed to be guardians of the people, were causing huge mental trauma for gay men just for being honest to their own instincts. Anyway, in 2009, all of this harassment stopped. And the years between 2009 and 2013 were the best – golden years! 

Then the worst happened. In 2013 the Supreme Court reinstated Section 377. So it all went back to square one – police extortion, couples being harassed, forced marriages. I was in the office when the ruling showed on TV, re-criminalising homosexuality. I felt sick in my stomach, because, to think that the country I was living in did not accept me for being honest and truthful about myself, made me feel sick! I lost all faith in the justice system.

Anyway, while this was happening, I had moved to Bombay. And around that time too, my mum who used to encourage me to sing as a child and made me join the church choir, kept on pestering me with this question – Have you joined a choir yet, have you joined a choir yet! I love to sing, of course, but I didn’t want to join a church choir and hide my sexuality. I wanted to find a gay-friendly choir in Bombay, but there wasn’t one. And that’s how Rainbow Voices Mumbai was born.

At the first audition we had about 28 people landing up on a rainy day. This was so encouraging to see all these people come and audition and just showed that there was a need for the choir in the community 🙂

MumbaiIn India, generally people think that a person who is gay is always camp and is on his way to becoming a hijra (or a trans-gender person). The hijra community in India is ostracised and don’t have access to education. They live in communities on the fringes of society and don’t really have any rights. And this is the stereotype we’d like to break.

So, that why as a choir we choose songs that are slutty and sometimes sung by women and we have all our beards and hair showing but, also wear makeup and sing as men do. We’d also like to make a statement that we’re men and we wear women’s clothes and makeup, but we’re still men. So deal with it…!

We’ve sung Bollywood songs and ‘Like a Virgin’ from Madonna; we don’t want to stick to the hetero-normative norms. Our choir members are free to wear whatever they like and there are no restrictions as to how they have to accessorise. We don’t have to conform to what the heterosexual world would want a man or a woman to dress or look like.

This is our fight for freedom to be ourselves and express ourselves freely. It’s also part of building awareness of the LGBT community and we hope it would reduce the sort of judgmental attitude Indian society has about us and others.

MumbaiWe provide a safe space for the choristers who join us and provide a support system. People share their coming out stories, discuss problems that they may face at work or college. We are lucky to have a safe space to rehearse every Sunday, We’ve got huge support from the Pink Singers and Proud Voices Asia through the social media platform and this has been a great source of encouragement for us all and has made us feel part of something global.”

The Pinkies are aiming to bring our friends in Rainbow Voices Mumbai to London to sing with us, so we can show them how we operate and how to grow and strengthen their flourishing community of singers. We know from our experience of over 30 years singing together and from many meetings with other choirs, what a positive impact singing has on the LGBT community. We’ve already raised £5,000 and we need to double that to bring every member of RVM here to London this summer.

Find out more on our website www.pinksingers.co.uk/india2017 where you can also contribute to our fundraising total to bring Rainbow Voices Mumbai here to London this summer.

Harmonics from Hong Kong

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This summer, the Pink Singers hosted Hong Kong based choir, Harmonics. One of its members, Alex, describes the opportunities the global LGBT+ choir community have opened up for him – and how his Pinkie experiences in London and Dublin have made him feel part of the family! 

August marked the Harmonics choir’s first birthday. My choir and the LGBT choir culture here in Hong Kong is very young, and of course, I am very new to the choir scene. I am not trained in music and I joined the Harmonics just for fun.

Our first gig was a fundraising event for a local charity, AIDS Concern. The song we performed was Truly Brave, a mash-up of Cindi Lauper’s True Colours and Sara Bareilles’ Brave. I had only few rehearsals before the performance as I joined late. Boy, I was so nervous that night! Our music director Matthew Gillespie encouraged us by reminding us that the song had a message and it was up to us to share the importance of being true, heard and seen. I imagined the message being delivered to someone who really needed to hear it in the audience. So I gathered my courage and sang. The message was indeed delivered, and it turned out that the person who needed to hear that message was me. From that night on, I felt that our choir is about more than just singing.

Soon after the gig, I got more involved with the Harmonics and started to manage the choir, but it was not until Hsien from the Pink Singers in London reached out to us on social media, and Richard from the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus visited us, that I realised that there was a huge international LGBT choral community out there. They showed us what we could become.

It was exciting to be invited to visit Dublin and London. I had always wanted to see Ireland and had always loved London. I couldn’t wait to finally meet Hsien, a self-proclaimed choir geek with a collection of weird yet fashionable glasses and his short-shorts and heels-wearing, rather handsome, “dance-y” friends from the Barberfellas. I was also excited to say “hello” to the well-dressed, charming theatrical trio from Dublin’s the Homonics, but, I knew that I was on a mission. I was to meet with the choirs and to learn how they were run.

In order to stick with the oldest LGBT choir in Europe, the Pink Singers, during the trip to Dublin, I had to make myself useful. I was given the nerve-wracking job of page turner, images of me messing up the pages and accidentally elbowing the accompanist flashing in and out my brain. John, who later bonded with me over wine after a stage malfunction, is an experienced pianist. He is pale, calm and always has a subtle friendly smile on his face. He spotted the anxiety in my sweat at the rehearsal and said, “The worst thing a page turner can do is to hold the bottom right corner when they turn. I will nod when the page needs turning. You will be okay.”

It was a lovely evening with the Pinkies. They practiced about a dozen songs and sounded beautiful. John continued to calm and reassure me. Things got a little odd when they sang a song called Hand in Hand. People started to hold hands and some people began to tear up. “Oh my, these people are strange”, I thought. Later I found out that the Pinkies learned the song from the Orlando Gay Chorus 20 years ago. The Pinkies’ thoughts were with those who lost their lives in the recent shooting in Orlando. It was the most emotional rehearsal that I have ever been in.

My trip to Dublin was too short to say anything more than that the people were very proud and friendly, and the city gave a genuine vibe. They had the chattiest and friendliest taxi drivers in the world. I would love to go back to see Dublin and Ireland more.

The award winning Gloria is Dublin’s lesbian and gay choir and has about 60 singers. As I was listening to their chairman Richard telling the story of the choir, I learned that that homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, which was actually two years after Hong Kong. Gloria was founded in 1995, which was 20 years before us. On the verge of exploding with choir envy, I heard that the Irish President had invited Gloria to perform at a banquet he was hosting. Hong Kong has a long way to go for equality compared to Ireland: Ireland has a marriage equality bill while in contrast Hong Kong does not even have an anti-discrimination law to protect LGBT people. I wondered, “Is the success of an LGBT choir the cause or the product of equality? Let’s grow the Harmonics to find out!”

I was pretty good at memorising people’s names until the London Gay Men’s Chorus presented me with an impossible challenge. The LGMC is an entirely different beast from the other choirs. With over 200 men, it is raging on testosterone! They are unapologetically powerful when it comes to protest or marching songs and have a ridiculously long waiting list for new singers. It takes three years of waiting time for a baritone like me to join the chorus. This popular choir was featured at the Natural History Museum, one of my favourite places in London, on the historic day when the United Kingdom announced it was to leave the European Union. It was a sad day for many, but the LGMC left me rather positive. They sang Mister Blue Sky facing my favourite exhibit, the iconic Dippy, inside a magnificent building where nature was recorded and homosexuality was celebrated.

The highlight of my trip was getting to march with the Pink Singers at Pride in London. It was a beautiful sunny day. The Pinkies were in their pink or black t-shirts. Balloons, banners and happy faces painted with rainbows filled our parade. We sang as we marched and the crowd on both sides cheered and sang along, as though we were a group of marathon runners at the finishing line, the difference being that the ovation lasted for almost an hour. It was such an emotional experience and it was the first time I felt publicly celebrated for who I am. All I wished was that my choir could have been there with me to share that moment.

I was even given the chance to sing with the Pink Singers on the stage in Trafalgar Square after the march. The song was Together, the theme song of Pride in London this year.  It was about being true and about our community spirit, an echo of the experience of the night of my first performance in Hong Kong. Again, I felt nervous about singing after only few practices, but again I was empowered and nurtured. “We are a community choir, so while musicality is important, we just value inclusiveness a bit more”, Hsien once told me. The Pinkies do practice what they preach.

In the end, I learned what I anticipated I would learn, and then some. I went from being very eager to become like other established choirs to realising that each choir has its own unique stories and challenges, strengths and charms. I am extremely thankful for what my choir has given me and I am very proud of the community that we build and the passions that we share. Our music director always emphasises how music bridges the gaps. It is so true. Music has brought us all together and now I have a group of friends in Hong Kong, London and Dublin that I call family.

Timeline datestamp: 20 September 2016

If I Had a Hammer

Sarah ColemanFollowing our recent visit from Rainbow Singers Across Borders, Pinkie alto Sarah tells us a bit more about the day, why the choir exists, and the shocking reality of Hate Crime both at home and further afield – and how, together, we can work for a brighter future.
If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land,
I’d hammer out danger,
I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between,
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If you’d have been passing the Pink Singers rehearsal several weeks ago, these are the words you’d have heard ringing out on to the street from the studio below. I’ve been singing with the Pink Singers for five years now, clocking up about 200 rehearsals (gulp); of all those occasions this was definitely one of my favourites. We invited the Rainbow Singers Across Borders to come and sing with us: a choir made up of members of a voluntary self-help group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers who are fleeing from the persecution of oppressive homophobic and transphobic regimes.
We kicked off with a fantastic performance from our guests of some traditional African songs. Later Herbert Bulindi, musical director of the Rainbow Singers, led us all in singing the beautiful Swahili song Malaika. You can hear a previous performance here  (spot Sally-Anne from the Pink Singers moonlighting in the video!). To finish we sang a song together that was familiar to us both – If I Had a Hammer. Great fun, great music and most importantly, some great people. To end the day we all piled into our local haunt of choice, the New Bloomsbury Set – where it must be said the bar staff did a sterling job of dealing with our larger than usual number of drink orders! As they said goodbye we were generously treated to a parting gift from the Rainbow Singers of another of their favourite songs: a perfect end to a lovely afternoon and evening.

Rainbows Across Borders
Pink meets Rainbow!

Many of the Rainbow Singers Across Borders have come to the UK from Uganda, where in 2014 the widely supported Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act – which originally included a death sentence for certain acts – was only dropped on a technicality. Hate crimes and abuse apparently soared around the time of introduction and under the act those who reported any attacks or discrimination based on their sexuality could, instead of finding protection, find themselves arrested.
Whilst this law was overturned, a new proposed piece of legislation has been accused of seeking to make any form of LGBT organization illegal, potentially cutting off community support for those who desperately need it. In the face of this, the fact that the LGBT+ community of Uganda has managed to celebrate Pride in the last few years feels, to me, nothing short of remarkable.
In contrast, in the UK today – due to the incredible campaigning efforts of our community heroes – we now receive public funding towards Pride, celebrated the legalisation of gay marriage in 2013 and have had legal protection from discrimination and harassment from the Equality Act since 2010. From 2005 any attack on an individual motivated by their sexuality was legally defined as a hate crime, allowing for tougher sentencing.
We chose October to join the two choirs in order to mark Hate Crime Awareness Week – hate crime being an issue we felt united both of our choirs. Whether our laws define it as a crime or not, hate is something the LGBT community sadly sometimes finds itself faced with.
Rainbows Across BordersTracey Button, from the Pink Singers shared her experience with us:
“In July 2008 I was on a night out with friends at a bar in London and I ended up kissing one of my female friends. Another person in the bar began hurling homophobic abuse at us. A friend told us we should stop what we were doing because not everyone agreed with it. My friend and I just laughed it off. At closing time I remember the door staff holding us back; they advised we wait until she left before we did.  Once she had gone we began walking to the bus stop. Unfortunately, our abuser reappeared and following an attempt to snatch my friend’s phone, I was called a disgusting lesbian and then she attacked me.
I don’t recall a huge amount of what happened next, but I ended up on the ground being punched and kicked in the ribs and head. I remember a man walking by during the assault and I begged for help, but he told me he “didn’t want to get involved.” My attacker eventually left and shortly after the police arrived. She was arrested and charged with ABH but only given a Caution. Thankfully I only suffered cuts and the fairly substantial bruising healed in a few weeks, but the psychological damage has taken a lot longer to recover from. I was offered counselling by a LGBT liaison officer from The Met, but I turned it down. I felt so ashamed by what had happened and wanted to forget the whole incident. I went into denial about my sexuality and it was another five years until I finally accepted that I was gay.”
Rainbows Across Borders
A performance by the Rainbows Across Borders choir.

Tracey’s experience was from 2008. LGBT rights in the UK have grown markedly stronger since then, yet hate crime reporting is on the increase according to Stop Hate UK; this may mark confidence in reporting or show something more sinister. Stop Hate UK still estimate that in the UK hate crime related to sexual orientation is a daily occurrence and are confident that gender identity hate crimes remain significantly under reported. Race, Ethnicity and Nationality related incidents were the most commonly reported Hate Crime strand this year.
Hate Crime Awareness Week is over now, but it’s important that we always remain vigilant and challenge persecution, hate and oppression where we see it. It’s important that we carry on raising awareness and campaigning for the right support for those who become a victim. We must support those in our community who need it and welcome those who need a community. My life has changed dramatically since I joined the Pink Singers, having access to such a warm and supportive group, with countless strong role models mean that I’m now able to feel confident about my identity in a way that I don’t think I ever was before. I’m so pleased knowing that the Rainbow Singers Across Borders are able to offer that same sense of community to those newly arriving in the UK who have had to abandon their homes to escape persecution. I am pleased that we have been able to welcome them in our community and I hope we continue to make joyous music together.
Rainbows Across Borders
Herbert giving a speech to the Pinkies.

Simon Harrison, Tenor, summed up what the experience meant for him:
“It was such a pleasure to meet the Rainbow Singers Across Borders. It made me aware of something very important: that it takes an effort to reach out and welcome the stranger – our instinct might be to turn to the familiar and not risk a potentially awkward moment that comes when two worlds meet; but the risk is worth it! We are changed and enriched by our contact with what appears to be “different” and it stretches our sense of who we are. As Herbert led us in learning one of their songs with his warmth and generosity and the two choirs mixed together, I could feel hearts softening, smiles broadening, and souls opening. I hope we all find safe places where we are welcomed and in which to grow and prosper.” 
So, if the Pink Singers had a hammer what would we do? Building bridges and creating those safe spaces seems a great place to start.

Sochi olympics throw Russian LGBT rights into relief

Last week, one of the Pink Singers small groups, the Barberfellas, were invited to sing at a party/protest to highlight the plight of LGBT Russians – a hot media topic given the Winter Olympics and by the shocking documentary, Hunted.
Little did our Barberfellas know that in attending the event at Ku Bar in Soho, they would be caught on camera during a live Channel 4 debate between Peter Tatchell and former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov. You can see the full debate, presented by Cathy Newman, here:

The sort of rhetoric put forward by Alexander Nekrassov sounds reminiscent of some views heard commonly in the UK before the 1990s.  But of course LGBT equality is a global issue, not a Russian one. Last week, the BBC published an insightful interactive highlighting the countries in the world where it’s still illegal to be gay. It’s a sobering map. Whilst some good progress is being made, some countries such as India and Burundi are actually making retrograde steps and making life even harder for their LGBT citizens.
We still have a long way to go. And so, we continue to sing. The Pink Singers wish to express their love and solidarity with all LGBT people and their supporters in Russia, and we’d like to share one of our anthems, Hand in Hand, the lyrics of which ring especially true for Russia and other oppressed nations.