Anti-gay law a colonial burden: Centre to SC

The attorney general has submitted that the introduction of Section 377 in India was not a reflection of India's tolerant values and traditions.

hidden March 22, 2012 18:36:35 IST
Anti-gay law a colonial burden: Centre to SC

New Delhi: Anti-gay law in the country is an offshoot of British colonialism and the Indian society earlier was more tolerant towards homosexuality, the Centre today submitted before the Supreme Court while pleading for
decriminalisation of gay sex.

"It would appear that the introduction of Section 377 (making gay sex offence) in India was not a reflection of existing Indian values and traditions. Rather, it was imposed upon Indian society due to the moral views of the colonisers," Attorney General ( AG) GE Vahanwati submitted.

Antigay law a colonial burden Centre to SC

Reuters

Appearing before a bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya, the AG submitted that government does not find any legal error in the judgment of Delhi High Court decriminalising gay sex and accepts the correctness of the same.

"Indian society prevalent before the enactment of the IPC had a much greater tolerance for homosexuality than its British counterpart, which at that time was under the influence of Victorian morality and values in regard to family
and the procreative nature of sex," he said while referring to various literature of colonial and pre-colonial times.

"It is submitted that the Government of India does not find any legal error in the judgment of the High Court and accepts the correctness of the same. This is also clear from the fact that it has not filed any appeal against the judgment
of the High Court," he said.

The apex court was hearing petitions by anti-gay rights activists and also by political, social and religious organisations, opposing the high court verdict.
The Delhi High Court had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence.

Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term. Senior BJP leader BP Singhal has challenged the high court verdict in the Supreme Court, saying such acts are
illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture.

Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance too have challenged the judgement. The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict. The Centre had earlier informed the apex court that there were an estimated 25 lakh gay people in India and about seven percent (1.75 lakh) of them were HIV-infected.

In its affidavit, filed by the Union Health Ministry, it had said that it is planning to bring 4 lakh high-risk 'men who have sex with men (MSM)' under its AIDS control programme and that it had already covered around 2 lakh of them.

PTI

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