Centre declines to take stand on gay sex

Centre declines to take stand on gay sex

Cabinet meet: Onus on apex court

Centre declines to take stand on gay sex

Centre plays it straight. AFP

The Union Cabinet decided to ask the Attorney General G E Vahanavati to assist the Supreme Court on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code relating to gay sex. The Government said that it was up to the apex court to decide on the law.

“The Cabinet considered the report of the Group of Ministers and decided to ask the attorney general to assist the Supreme Court in every way desired in arriving at an opinion on the (Delhi) High Court judgment,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.

She was addressing a news-conference after a meeting of the Union Cabinet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Supreme Court had sought the government’s opinion after a Christian organisation and a disciple of Yoga Guru Ramdev approached the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court’s July 2 order that legitimized homosexuality between consenting adults.

The Government had constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to shape its opinion on the sensitive issue. The GoM comprised Home Minister P Chidambaram, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Law Minister M Veerappa Moily.

GoM suggestion

The GoM is believed to have suggested that the Government should not oppose the Delhi High Court’s order, but should also refrain from taking a stand, but leave it to the Supreme Court itself to decide.

Sources said that the Government had refrained from taking a stand on gay sex considering the political sensitivity of the issue.

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) too has of late moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court’s order. The statutory body for protection of child rights has petitioned that the dilution of Section 377 of IPC has legalised one more way of sexual exploitation of children.

The Section 377 of the IPC defines homosexuality as unnatural sex, which is punishable with imprisonment up to life. But the Delhi High Court on July 2 struck it down stating that it violates Article 21 (Right to Protection of Life and Personal Liberty), 14 (Right to Equality before Law) and 15 (Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex or Place of Birth) of the Constitution.

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