US reacts with dismay over India's gay sex ruling

US reacts with dismay over India's gay sex ruling

Expressing concern over the Indian Supreme Court's ruling restoring the ban on gay sex, the US has expressed its opposition to "any action that criminalises consensual same-sex conduct between adults".

"The United States places great importance on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people and that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world," State Department  spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday.

Noting that Secretary of State John Kerry had made a reference to LGBT persons in his statement on human rights day, she said: "We oppose any action that criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct between adults."

"LGBT rights are human rights," Psaki said. "That's something you've heard Secretary Kerry say, I believe Secretary (Hillary) Clinton say before him, and we call on all governments to advance equality for LGBT individuals around the world."

Asked if the US was planning to reach out to the Indian government to convey its views on the issue, she said: "We are in regular touch about these  issues and others with India."

On its expectations of steps from the Indian Government or whether the US would encourage India to repeal the law, the spokesperson said: "That's a decision that the Indian government would make."

"We obviously don't make decisions on behalf of other governments and their  legislation. So I expressed our deep concern about any efforts around the world to not recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, and that's a  message we'll continue to convey."

The spokesperson was not sure whether the issue was discussed with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, but sources said Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, did refer to it during a meeting with her Wednesday.

Meanwhile, All Out, a top American LGBT organisation with a membership of more than a million, described the Supreme Court's decision as "a sad day for India and for the world".

"No one should have to go to jail because of who they are or who they love. We stand in solidarity with India's human rights community," said Joe Mirabella, director of communications.

"Today's ruling is a setback," said Sapna Pandya, president of the Washington based Khush DC, an organisation of South Asian gay community.

"But it doesn't take away from the fact that the recent past has seen  promise for LGBTQ rights in not just India, but also other South Asian countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal," she said.

"We stand in solidarity with the brave activists in South Asia and worldwide  who have taken such huge leaps in recent years and know they will continue  the fight for equality in spite of the disappointment we all feel today," Pandya said.

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