Puritanical govt flounders on gay sex

Centre claims homosexuality is immoral, then says it has no stand

A confused and befuddled Centre on Thursday took contradictory positions on the issue of homosexuality in the Supreme Court, first claiming that gay sex was immoral and it spreads diseases like AIDS and then making a somersault to declare that it has no stand on the issue.

Gay rights activists at a celebration in New Delhi. AP File photo

The Centre’s stand and then the lack of it came while opposing a Delhi High Court order which had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Two senior law officers, appearing for the Health and Home ministries, took two different positions before a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyaya. Additional Solicitor General (ASG)  P P Malhotra argued against gay sex saying that it was “against social order and public morality” and the Indian society would not follow the practices prevailing in foreign countries.

“Gay sex is highly immoral and against social order and there is high chance of spreading of diseases (like AIDS) through such acts,” Malhotra, appearing for the Home Ministry said.

Since television new channels had flashed the news, the Home Ministry came out with a press release, saying it had not taken any stand on the Delhi High Court order decriminalising homosexuality. “The Ministry of Home Affairs has not taken any position on homosexuality as is being reported in the media (television channels). The Ministry of Home Affairs has also not given any instruction apart from conveying the decision of the Cabinet,” the statement said.

After Malhotra ended his submissions following nearly four-hour proceedings, another Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain, appearing for the Health Ministry, told the court that he had been instructed to say that Centre was not taking any stand on the issue.
But the court said that it was “not going to take any cognizance. We don’t require any affidavit. The Union of India had already made its submission,” adding, “This is a serious issue. Whether rightly or wrongly, the issue is being debated in media. Don’t make such statements in court, it would only embarrass you,” the Bench said.

The apex court has been hearing a clutch of petitions against the Delhi High Court order and while the gay community hailed the 2009 verdict, there were protests too.

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