Gay ban: Court makes moralist Govt squirm
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Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss may have struck a liberal chord at an international conference last month saying Section 377 of the IPC that criminalises homosexuality must go but his Government is clearly caught in a time warp.
So much so that today it invited the Delhi High Court's strong censure when it effectively equated homosexuality with "widow remarriage." And, at one point, provoked the bench to remark that going by the government's stand on homosexuality and AIDS, it would be wise to ban sexual intercourse itself.
The Centre's affidavits filed earlier in the court reveal a "casualness" in treating the question of legalising homosexuality. Here is a sample of the affidavit that irked a Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar today: "Acts glorified in the past like dowry, domestic violence, widow remarriage have now been brought under the purview of criminal justice system, likewise practice of homosexuality or lesbianism is not accepted in our society."
This prompted the bench to ask the government, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P P Malhotra, on what basis they made "widow remarriage" an offence.
"It is a pity to know with what casualness the affidavit has been drafted. Since when has widow re-marriage been a crime? And what is the relation between widow re-marriage and the problem at hand?" asked Justice Muralidhar.
The bench added: "Mr Malhotra, from what I read in your affidavits, you (government) are against the scrapping of the entire provision. But the petitioner (Naz Foundation and 13 other NGOs) is only asking for a modification to the extent of only removing the portion which criminalises adult homosexual love. They never asked for scrapping the entire Section 377 IPC."
The ASG, however, stuck to his brief that "homosexuality is a social vice and the State has the power to contain it."
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