Health ministry favours decriminalisation of Sec 377

Health ministry favours decriminalisation of Sec 377

Chennai: LGBT community members participate in 'National Coming Out Day' to mark the anniversary of High Court's verdict amending Section 377, in Chennai on Monday, July 02, 2018. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)

For more than a decade, the Union health ministry was consistent on favouring decriminalisation of Section 377 of the IPC on the grounds that the move would help the government check spread of HIV/AIDS in the society.

First, before the Delhi High Court and later in front of the Supreme Court, the health ministry argued that a large number of same-sex individuals did not like to come out in the open seeking treatment and care because they feared the law.

In 2006, National AIDS Control Organisation in its affidavit before the Delhi High Court pointed out that high-risk groups like men-having-sex-with-men are mostly reluctant to reveal the same-sex behaviour due to the fear of law enforcement agencies.

The fear keeps a large section invisible and unreachable and pushes the cases of infection underground making it very difficult for the public health workers to even access them.

Submitting the affidavit on behalf of the Union health ministry, NACO also presented figures to show poor penetration of safe intervention among these individuals.

“Enforcement of Section 377 against homosexual groups renders risky sexual practices to go unnoticed. Also fear of harassment by law enforcement agencies leads to sex being hurried, particularly because these groups lack safe place and utilise public places for their indulgence and don’t have the option to consider or negotiate safer sex practices. The hidden nature of such groups constantly inhibits and impedes interventions under the National AIDS Control Programme aimed at prevention,” NACO had stated.

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