Gay issue may turn to be a unifying factor for Muslims


New Delhi: Muslim organizations across the country were outraged at the verdict that ‘read down’ section 377 of the Indian Penal Code last week, and have demanded that the government must not legalize homosexuality.

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Mufti Ejaz Arshad Qasmi, former spokesperson of Darul Uloom Deoband and currently general secretary of the Islamic Peace Foundation told that in the next few weeks efforts would be made to form a joint forum comprising representatives of Muslim, Hindu and Christian organisations which would spell-out its objections to the UPA government.

According to Qasmi, the process has already been initiated. The Darul Uloom Deoband, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Delhi’s Jama Masjid and Islamic Peace Foundation will meet soon to discuss a course of action. “We will first try to get as many Muslim organizations as possible on board. The verdict is shameful. It is a result of the mindset of just a handful of ungodly people, how can it be accepted for the majority? It (the order) not just legalizes something that is completely against nature but is also devious of religious sensibilities,” Qasmi said. Qasmi has also contacted political leaders on the issue. “Some people in the government want section 377 to go. We are holding discussions with politicians to avoid this,” he said.

Chairman of The Peace Islamic Research Centre Dr. Mohammad Wakeel Wasti has reacted sharply to giving a legal nod to homosexuality. He termed it a conspiracy by the Jews and Christian against the Muslims. Dr. Wakeel informed that Quran is the only religious book that has condemned the homosexuality as a criminal offence. Nabi Akram (P.B.U.H.) has accorded it Haram. He also completely refuted the claims that homosexuality can be helpful in fighting the lethal disease of AIDS. He was addressing meeting in Katihar district of Bihar yesterday.

Meanwhile the view that the Delhi High Court judgment de-criminalizing sex among consenting adults of the same sex is “reasonable and well-balanced” has gained ground in the Manmohan Singh government, which is unlikely to oppose the order in the Supreme Court. The government feels that the judgment touched but on a small part of Article 377 when it decriminalized sex between two consenting adults of the same sex in private, and that the alarmist interpretation that the law itself has been upturned should not guide the Centre’s action.There was no bone to pick with this as it was in keeping with the laws of most societies with stable democratic and judicial institutions, said a top government official.

To balance it, however, there is a view that the government may consider either amending the Section 377 or enacting a new law to signal its zero tolerance approach towards the abuse of minors and forced homosexual sex. Section 377 does provide a deterrent, but the view is that the Centre may look at the option of making it tougher and unambiguous by making the description of offence more elaborate. This can allay misgivings and help the Centre explain its position to those who have opposed the court judgment. Although a final call will be taken only after the ministry of law gives its opinion, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram seemed to question the drastic interpretation of the order by saying that the High Court applied itself to only one aspect of the Section 377. Chidambaram was speaking to the media after discussing the issue with his colleagues Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Law Minister M Veerappa Moily.

Sources also spoke of the possibility of bringing legislation in case the Law Ministry advises so, though this was not likely to happen in the current Budget session. The report of the law ministry, which has been sought by the ministers who met on Friday to consider the verdict, will be studied by the government and the Congress leadership before a bill is brought, possibly in the winter session. The government feels it can wait till then as it has no differences with the high court’s ruling on decriminalizing homosexuality.