The State Department is planning to spend $18,000 on an LGBT film festival in Mumbai to "promote gender inclusiveness."
The department is seeking a nonprofit group to facilitate the "LGBT Pride Month Film Festival" in June 2019, according to a grant announcement released on the final day before the partial government shutdown.
"The three-day program in Mumbai would center around the screenings to the general public of seven to ten American films that outline the legal and social aspects of the struggle for gay rights in the United States or that illustrate how the perceptions of gay people by Hollywood and the general public have changed over time, in particular how gay characters are portrayed in film," the grant announcement states.
The U.S. consulate in Mumbai said it "supports initiatives that promote diversity, tolerance, and gender inclusiveness, including for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people," according to documents accompanying the grant opportunity.
"Recognizing the landmark 2018 Indian Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized homosexual activity, LGBT Indians nonetheless still struggle for social acceptance," the U.S. consulate continued. "This project will support greater inclusion of LGBT Indians in society by bringing together diverse audiences for a three-day film festival of American feature and documentary films on LGBT themes."
The festival will also include panel discussions with LGBT activists in order for the "Indian public to better understand their fellow LGBT citizens."
The goal of the taxpayer-funded festival is to promote "social harmony and an appreciation of diversity."
The State Department estimates it will spend $18,000 on the festival. The grant calls for at least $16,000 in funds.
The U.S. consulate in Mumbai has celebrated LGBT pride month before. In June 2017 the consulate hosted a "gay-themed play" called "Ek Madhav Baug."
"The moving matinee performance drew an audience of dozens of activists, students, and the general public," the consulate said.
The story follows "one young man’s coming out to his mother when he gives her his personal diary to read and through which she learns of his struggles and joys coming to terms with being a gay man in India."
"The play is emotionally charged, and this energy fed a lengthy and lively discussion afterwards on the topics of LGBT rights in India," the consulate said at the time.
That year the consulate also hosted an "evening of poetry" to commemorate LGBT pride month, which offered "readings and experiences on dealing with LGBT realities."
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