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HC raps Govt for conflicting approach over homosexuality

New Delhi, Fri, 26 Sep 2008 NI Wire
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Finding contradictory statement of the two ministries-Home and Health- the Delhi High Court on Friday criticised the Centre for its conflicting notes on the homosexuality law.

A two-member Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and S Muralidhar stated: “Two affidavits have been filed by the two ministries Home and Health. While the former favouring retention of penal provisions, the latter favouring rescind the penal provision. What is the stand of the Centre? Are you aware of that?”

The Court was hearing petitions filed by 13 gay rights supporting NGOs comprising NAZ foundation seeking the court’s direction to decriminalise homosexual acts among consenting adults by amending Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which has provision of punishments up to life imprisonment.

Earlier on Thursday advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing on behalf of the gay activists argued before the Court saying morality must not supersede the constitutional rights in a democratic society where fundamental rights prohibit any discrimination of the ground of sex.

The Centre yesterday said it would come up with definite stand on Homosexuality laws, however, it said it would not scrap the Article 377 of the IPC that makes homosexuality a punishable offence in India.

During the last hearing, the government sought more time from the court to sort out differences between the Home and Health ministries over decriminalisation of homosexuality among consenting adults.

The Union Cabinet’s failure to take a decisive stand on the issue has resulted into ironical situation for the Centre when its two law officers came up before the court with divergent views.

The government earlier on July 24 had said the court it would file a fresh affidavit on the issue after reconciling differences.

Speaking at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, the Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has extended his support to gay activists by lending his voice for legalising homosexuality in the country. The minister

Considering the fact that an estimated 2.5 million people in India are living with HIV and AIDS, the Minister had expressed its concern over the increasing cases among men who have sex with men (MSMs) and are at higher risk of transmission due to multi partner.

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