Decriminalising homosexuality – gays hopeful, political parties wary


New Delhi : There can be “no better news”, said members of the capital’s gay community, voicing happiness at reports that the government was planning to change an archaic law that criminalises homosexuality, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) felt the government should not be in a hurry to make changes.

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The gay community has long been demanding repeal of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which provides imprisonment of 10 years for unnatural sex, including that of homosexual nature, even between two consenting adults.

Gay rights activist Nitin Kumar said: “It’s high time the government realises that section 377 is an archaic law and is against the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.”

“For far too long people of the community have been harassed on the basis of their sexual preference, and one of the main reasons is that the law makes that justifiable. If the government is mulling over repealing the section, there can be no better news,” Kumar said.

However, voicing caution, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “We are living in India, not in an European country. These issues are very important and sensitive. A thorough discussion is needed on this issue.”

“Without detailed discussion (on the issue) with political parties, social activists and leaders, it is not advisable for the government to make changes in the law in a hurry,” Naqvi told IANS.

Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily had earlier said the government would discuss the controversial section 377 of the IPC.

Moily told reporters: “The home minister (P. Chidambaram) is planning to convene a meeting of the health and law ministers over this issue.”

However, leaders of other political parties have also sounded wary over changing the law.

Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member M.K. Pandhe said: “Generally we don’t support homosexuality but I cannot say further on the issue because our party has not discussed the matter.”

The gay community is planning a gay pride march in the capital Sunday evening as well as in other metros.