Activists slam government's stand on gay sex

Activists slam government's stand on gay sex

The union home ministry's opposition in the Supreme Court Thursday to decriminalising gay sex has drawn flak from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) activists who said the move is ''irresponsible and illogical''.

"I think it is irresponsible, illogical to come up with such opinions at this time. The ministry is ignoring what the Delhi High Court bench had observed three years ago when it decriminalised homosexuality," Mohnish Malhotra, a gay rights activist and one of the organisers of the annual gay pride march here, told IANS.

The home ministry told the apex court  that it was not in favour of decriminalising gay sex. It said Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code should remain on the statute to check cases of child sex abuse and other "unnatural offences".

Reiterating the stand it had taken before the high court, which has struck down Section 377 in 2009, the ministry said that homosexuality was immoral and was causing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.

"What morality is the ministry talking about - public morality or constitutional morality? If the government is trying to decide what is immoral or unnatural by ignoring human rights, then it is unfortunate," Malhotra added.

The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the high court’s July 2, 2009 verdict holding that Section 377, which criminalises gay sex among consenting adults, was a violation of the fundamental rights.

Section 377 of the IPC which deals with unnatural offences reads: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished….”

Gay rights activist and founder of Naz foundation, Anjali Gopalan, was too shocked to comment on the matter. “It is frustrating. I just can't say anything,” Gopalan told IANS.

The LGBT community hoped the apex court's final verdict would be favourable.
“We trust the court. Let the proceedings happen… but I think the reality is out in the open on what our government thinks about rights of the homosexuals,” said activist Aditya Bandhopadhyay.

This is not the first time that the government stand has raised the hackles of activists who have struggled to decriminalise homosexuality. Last year, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's comment calling gay sex unnatural and a disease raised a storm.