India is celebrating its first gay film festival this week.

The ‘Kashish’ Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010 began yesterday and will run over the weekend with more than 100 films from 25 countries.

The festival is the first such mainstream event in the country, which only legalised gay sex last year.

It was launched by Bollywood star and gay rights advocate Celina Jaitley.

Organiser Vivek Raj Anand told AFP: “There have been gay film festivals before… but this is the first gay film festival in the mainstream.”

He added that he had not struggled to find partners to support the event.

One of the films showing will be I Am, which focuses on male sex workers and homophobic police officers

In one scene, actors Rahul Bose and Arjun Mathur are seen embracing in a public place. They are seen by a police officer who begins to harass them.

The film is set in the context of Section 377, the colonial-era law which banned gay sex.

A star of the film, actor Rahul Bose said: “It would be inconceivable for the mainstream cinema chain to do something like this only because attitudes takes time to change.”

The festival will close with a showing of Dunno Y . . . Na Jaane Kyu, which has been touted as India’s first mainstream gay love story and will be released in May.

The films will be shown at multiplex chain PVR Cinemas and the Alliance Francaise cultural organisation.