Large crowds gathered Sunday in several Indian cities to participate in Gay Pride, the AFP reported.

Hundreds marched for gay rights Sunday, and called on the Delhi High Court to decriminalize being gay. A verdict on the law that offers a harsh judgment for gays and lesbians – ten years to life in prison, longer than most rape or murder sentences – is expected before the end of the year. The law, a holdover from British colonial rule, is known as Section 377 of the Indian penal code.

In three Indian cities – Chennai, Bangalore and New Delhi – rainbow flag waving marchers wound their way through city streets chanting “Down with 377.” Marches were also held Saturday in smaller cities.

The visibility is remarkable considering gay activists held their first Gay Pride parade just last year.

Being gay is illegal in the world's largest democracy, and many Indian leaders reject homosexuality on moral or religious grounds. Gay advocates, however, say India is ready to decriminalize being gay, arguing the constitution is on their side.

Many young Indians have become accustomed to the notion of gay acceptance while working for Western-based multinational companies that protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. A large majority of India's population (75%) are under 35 years old.

The United Nations is also urging the high court to reverse the law, arguing such laws hinder HIV/AIDS prevention efforts aimed at the gay community.

While being gay remains taboo in India, acceptance is slowly increasing, especially in its big cities.

Still, many gay men and lesbians marched anonymously, covering their faces. “Give me support, I want to take off my mask,” read one sign.