Sec 377: Tharoor sees 'intolerance' in BJP over rejection of Bill

Sec 377: Tharoor sees 'intolerance' in BJP over rejection of Bill
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor today saw "intolerance" among a section of the ruling BJP after his move to introduce a Bill for decriminalising homosexuality was rejected in Lok Sabha.

The introduction of the private members' Bill, which sought amendment to the IPC by seeking to "substitute a new section for Section 377", was objected to by BJP member Nishikant Dubey, who said he was opposing it not because of any religion, vedas or 'puranas' but because of the Supreme Court judgement.

Reacting to the development, Tharoor said, "It strikes me as extremely intolerant because at this stage, it's a very routine procedure.

"I begged to introduce the Bill. It is extremely unfortunate for a Bill to be rejected, even for introduction and it shows, I am sorry to say, the degree of intolerance that exists in sections of our ruling party."

The Congress leader and former Union Minister said he "will move the Bill again when the session is convened next to ensure individual privacy is possible".

The bulk of the votes opposing "even the introduction of the Bill" came from BJP, claimed Tharoor, although he also noted that there were "some members" of the ruling party who "seemed to have" voted to allow him to introduce it.

The opposition MP said he proposed to amend Section 377 of IPC in order to de-criminalise homosexuality in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement in this connection.

The apex court had in 2013 overruled a 2009 decision by Delhi High Court striking down the section and said that it was for the Parliament to decide whether to amend or delete it and not the judiciary.

Saying that "it is not the government's responsibility to decide how people behave in their private life", the Thiruvananthapuram MP said, "I have not proposed the deletion; I have just proposed amendment and the purpose of the same is to ensure consensual sex between consenting adults will be legally possible. That is, we will keep the government out of our bedroom."

There is a need now to look "very, very critically" at how the public sees this issue, he further averred while seeking a public debate on the issue.

"That there are so many people in the ruling party present on the government benches who are expressing their intolerance and homophobia in this manner is very revelatory," he charged.

"After all, what we are talking about is human freedom, human privacy, human dignity," he added. Tharoor expressed confidence that if the public starts "waking up" to the reality of what is being discussed and what is at stake, he will have at least succeeded in "raising" consciousness about the issue.

"In that spirit, today's defeat will still be a victory for the cause of justice and freedom in our country," he said.

Two other Bills moved by Tharoor, for amending Section 124A of IPC, that covers sedition, and the National Asylum and Refugee Bill, which favours the extension of rights to foreign nationals, were allowed to be introduced in the House.

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