New Delhi,controversial law that criminalises homosexuality in India home to 2.3 million 10 percent of them are infected with HIV
By Live Dr - Mon Jun 29, 7:26 pm
New Delhi, (IANS) Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Monday was non-committal on backing the gay community but emphasised the need for a broader “consensus” on the issue, even as his predecessor Anbumani Ramadoss had strongly advocated during his five-year term the scrapping of the controversial law that criminalises homosexuality in India.
Azad said: “I don’t want to give my view or the ministry’s view. It is a big issue and there are both negative and positive sides. It involves culture of the country and problems like diseases and harassment. There should be big debate on this issue.”
Azad told reporters that there should be a “broader consensus across party lines to sort out the matter. Parliamentarians might have some questions on this and I don’t want to thrust my or others’ views. We want a total consensus and one opinion of the government in this issue.”
However, the stand was different from Ramadoss, who openly spoke in favour of homosexuals during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
“Section 377 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), which criminalises men who have sex with men, must go. I want to do away with it to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Ramadoss had said on many occasions during his tenure.
India is home to 2.3 million homosexuals and at least 10 percent of them are infected with HIV. Ramadoss had maintained that since a huge number of homosexuals fall under the high risk group, continuing with the criminal tag would only force them to go underground.
“We need to accept it as a problem as the provision is preventing our work to control, curb and reverse the AIDS situation,” Ramadoss had said.
India is home to 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients including 80,000 children below the age of 15.
Azad’s statement came after news reports that the central government was considering repealing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to legalise homosexuality.