Gay Bollywood stars, Indian celebrities and LGBT+ allies have marked the first Diwali since India legalised gay sex.
Taking to Twitter to mark the Hindu festival of lights on November 7, Bollywood director and producer Karan Johar wrote: “Happy Diwali to all of you! Love and light for life…..stay as positive as you can this year ….please wish your families from Mom, Roohi, Yash and me!!❤️❤️❤️”
Bollywood star Johar, a supporter of LGBT+ rights, has never officially come out as gay.
However, the Bollywood director said that “everybody knows” about his sexual orientation in his autobiography An Unsuitable Boy in 2017, before gay sex was legal in India, adding that he could “be jailed” for his sexuality.
It’s the first Diwali since India’s ban on gay sex was repealed
The now-repealed Section 377, introduced when India was ruled by the British Empire, previously banned gay sex in the country.
Artist, model and blogger Anwesh Sahoo, who won Mr. Gay World India in 2016 and is vocal on LGBT+ issues, celebrated Diwali by posting a colourful photo on Instagram to his more than 2,500 followers.
“Here’s wishing you all a safe and very #HappyDiwali from us” — Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar
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LGBT+ allies in the Bollywood world also marked Diwali by posting to their millions of followers.
Akshay Kumar, who has appeared in more than 100 Hindi films in his more than 25-year-long career, tweeted to his 28 million followers on Twitter: “The mood is festive and happy, post the Diwali puja in the office today.
“Here’s wishing you all a safe and very #HappyDiwali from us ✨✨✨.”
On the day gay sex was legalised in India, Kumar had tweeted to his fans: “A historic day for India! Love for all, freedom for all 🌈 RIP #Section377.”
Preity Zinta, who played roles in two annual top-grossing films in the country, Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) and Veer-Zaara (2004), also celebrated Diwali on Twitter.
Posting to her four million followers, she wrote: “Happy Diwali to all you beautiful people out there😍 May this Diwali bring love, light, laughter, happiness & prosperity in all our lives & take away all the darkness, negativity & judgement.”
Bollywood stars lauded the repeal of Section 377
Zinta marked the legalisation of gay sex in India by tweeting to her fans in support of LGBT+ rights in September.
“If you have a heart you should be free to love who you want,” she wrote at the time.
“So Happy to hear that the Supreme Court of India 🇮🇳 has abolished #section377 decriminalising Homosexuality.”