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Activists welcome government’s stance on gay sex

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Activists welcome government’s stance on gay sex

Bombay News.Net
Thursday 17th September, 2009 (IANS)

Gay activists and lawyers Thursday welcomed the government’s decision to leave it to the Supreme Court to arrive at a view on decriminalising homosexuality among consenting adults, saying the stance is not ‘negative’ or ‘against them.’

‘I feel that the government is not interfering. This is a good stand. It is not negative because it implies they don’t oppose the high court recommendation,’ Ashok Row Kavi, a gay rights activist, told IANS.

Kavi stressed that the government had to consider views of both the majority and minority and its ‘decision is not going against the gay minority.’

‘It is a matter of constitutional morality. This will let us fight it out in court,’ he said.

The UNAIDS also welcomed the government’s stance.

‘Today the union Cabinet took a small but extremely important step in the fight against HIV and AIDS by upholding the rights of men to have sex with other men through not contesting the historic Delhi High Court ruling on 377,’ said a statement issued by Charles Gilks, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, India.

Agrees Lesley A. Esteves, journalist and gay rights activist.

‘I feel the government has studied and recognised that the Delhi high court judgment is a solid judgment and as per the Constitution. Hence, it is a broad and liberal stand,’ he added.

On Thursday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni announced that the ‘cabinet considered the report of the group of ministers and decided to ask the attorney general to assist the Supreme Court in every way desired in arriving at an opinion on the Delhi high court judgement.’

The announcement came after a meeting of the union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manomohan Singh.

Asked if the government was taking the safe way out on a divisive issue, Soni replied: ‘I don’t think you can take that viewpoint.’

On Aug 17, the Supreme Court had sought the central government’s view on decriminalising gay sex between consenting adults after lawsuits challenged the Delhi High Court’s order.

In a historical verdict, the Delhi High Court July 2 decriminalised gay sex, quoting Jawaharlal Nehru to emphasise the constitutional principle of ‘equal rights to all’ and equality of allbefore law.

It said section 377, a law from the British Raj era that says homosexuality and ‘unnatural sex’ is a criminal act, should be amended.

Gautam Bahn, gay rights activist and writer, also praised the government’s move.

‘The government quite smartly and strategically, through today’s decision, has cleared that they don’t oppose the Delhi High Court decision on decriminalising gay sex. The government decision will boost the judgment,’ he told IANS.

According to Majid Memon, a senior lawyer, the government took a right decision to leave it to the court to decide on the issue as it is a very sensitive subject.

‘This is a very sensitive issue which does not simply have a legal fallout but also has social, moral, institutional — as far as the institution of family is concerned. Public opinion is also of great importance as it is going to govern the private lives of individuals who are subject to laws in India,’ he said.

He also said there was a need for a debate on the subject before a final decision was taken.

Soli J. Sorabjee, former attorney general welcomed the government’s decision and said ‘it reflects broad mindedness and power of the government’.

But there were some voices of dissent.

Forty-four-year-old prince Manvendra Singh Gohil from Rajpipla in Gujarat, who faced flak for admitting that he was gay, said he had ‘expected the government to make more rational choices.’

Giving its landmark judgment, the high court said section 377 should be amended and any sex between consenting adults should be legalised.

What this judgment means is that police will no longer be able to intrude upon or arrest adult homosexuals having consensual sex.

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Written by gaybombay

September 18, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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