Monitoring gay rights situation in India, says US

Monitoring gay rights situation in India, says US

Monitoring gay rights situation in India, says US

The United States is monitoring the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in India in particular after the Supreme Court ruled consensual homosexual activity as unconstitutional, a US official said.

"Despite progress in equal rights for LGBT persons around the world, our work is far from finished," Richard E Hoagland, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said yesterday in his address to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Hoagland said with about 80 countries worldwide criminalising homosexuality, LGBT persons around the world remain vulnerable to arbitrary arrest, harassment, discrimination and violence.

Even today, five countries still define homosexuality as a crime punishable by death, he noted.

The US closely follow the situation in Uganda, where the newly enacted "anti-homosexuality act" not only provides for life imprisonment for homosexuality, but places significant restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly for all Ugandans.

"We track the state of affairs in Russia, where the new, so-called anti-gay propaganda law criminalise free expression with respect to what it terms as 'non-traditional' sexual relations. We monitor the situation in India, where the Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling that found the ban on consensual homosexual activity unconstitutional," he said.

And yet, there are countries that serve as beacons for the rest: countries like Argentina, which pave the way for other countries in South America to follow its lead with progressive LGBT legislation, he said.

In South Asia, Nepal's High Court overturned a previous ban on homosexuality in 2007 and has extended legal recognition to third-gender citizens, he added.

"In Pakistan, the Supreme Court recognised a third gender for its hijira community in 2009 and extended third-gender voter IDs to the population; just a few days ago, the Supreme Court in India did the same thing," the State Department official said.