Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has written to Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad to express his “dismay and serious concern” as India’s Supreme Court ruled this week to reinstate a ban on gay sex.

India’s highest court earlier this week upheld a colonial-era law which criminalises gay sex, in what activists described as a “black day” for gay rights. The Supreme Court threw out a 2009 New Delhi High Court decision that ruled the law was unconstitutional, in effect reinstating Section 377 of India’s penal code, which bans “sex against the order of nature”.

The move has been widely condemned by politicians, celebrities and human rights advocates around the world.

Mr Blunt, who came out as gay in 2010, strongly condemns the ruling the Supreme Court in India, calling it a “disaster”, noting the danger in which it puts the lives of many, including to do with HIV and AIDS prevention through awareness.

He reasons with Mr Nabi Azad as a friend, and as a friend of India’s to repeal the law, in order to save the lives of many LGBT Indians.

The letter from Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, is available to view below.

Dear Ghulam,

You will remember our auspicious meeting on British Parliamentary cricket tour to India in January 2005, when we both captained our respective teams, you rather more successfully than I!

In the ensuing years I have been in and out of government as Minister for Prisons and also finally found the freedom to come out as a gay man in 2010.  That freedom was won in the UK by others much braver than I, who battled the misunderstanding and prejudice towards gay people for many decades here.  They helped society change so much that I was able to exercise the freedom to be me, even as a government minister and as a Conservative Member of Parliament.  The least I can do is support those in other countries who find themselves in the position of campaigning for a change in the law and to change attitudes in society in the direction of freedom and tolerance for gay people.

So I am writing not only recalling our friendship forged on the cricket field but also in my capacity as a member of the India All Party Parliamentary Group and as Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an international LGBT rights charity, to express my dismay and serious concern over the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to uphold Section 377.

I believe this ruling is a disaster not only for tens of millions of your fellow citizens but also for the reputation of India.  Returning to British imposed sodomy laws will send out a powerful negative message to the rest of the Commonwealth in particular, members of which already constitute over half the countries in the world to still criminalise same-sex relationships.

This ruling will directly endanger the many Indians for whom the last four years have proved an opportunity to come out publicly. The sudden removal of such legislative freedom could make openly gay Indians sitting ducks for legal persecution.

Within your own brief, such a ruling has clear implications for public health. The spread of HIV/AIDS can best be prevented by frank, evidence based dialogue and safe access to health facilities. If gay Indians are to be criminalised and closeted again, enabling you to tackle this disease effectively becomes inevitably more difficult.

There is undoubtedly a dynamic for tolerance around sexuality building in India.  You have made pensions available to eunuchs, a category ‘O’ for other has been added to passport applications for recording the sex of an applicant, there is an online gay bookstore, there are gay film festivals, many LGBT NGOs and Pride marches are attended by thousands. The struggle for equal rights under the law is a vibrant indigenous movement with an authority and strength of its own. This decision, if allowed to stand, will inflict irreparable damage on a progressive movement of which India should be rightly proud.

I ask as both your and India’s friend that you repeal this regressive Victorian era British law that is inconsistent with the tolerance that is a hallmark of your great nation.