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India: Supreme Court rebukes ministers for conflicting gay views

Stephen Gray February 28, 2012

KOLKATA, INDIA: Indian members of the Integration Society, an organization committed to the defence of human rights and sexual freedom, apply make-up as they take part in a march entitled "Walk on the Rainbow" in Kolkata, 26 June 2005 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, said to be the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement. Some hundred members took part in the march even as homosexuality in India stands criminalized because of a mid 19th century colonial law, as the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code enacted by the British in 1860 criminalizes what it calls, "sexual offences against the order of nature". AFP PHOTO/DESHAKALYAN chowdhury (Photo credit should read DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)

Supreme Court judges hearing the case for reintroducing a ban on gay sex in India have warned the government for making contradictory statements about homosexuality.

Judges told ministers not to “make a mockery of the system” after officials appearing in the court appeared to be at odds over whether gay sex should be illegal.

Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain was appearing for the Indian government’s Health Ministry today and told the court they were in favour of decriminalisation, India’s DNA reports.

Last week, Additional Solicitor General PP Malhotra appeared for the Home Ministry and told the court gay sex was unnatural.

In an apparently inaccurate statement of the government’s position, he said: “Gay sex is highly immoral and against social order and there is high chance of spreading of diseases through such acts.

“Our Constitution is different and our moral and social values are also different from other countries, so we cannot follow them.”

The Home Ministry almost immediately distanced itself from Malhotra’s comments saying it had not taken a stance on homosexuality and was not intending to back criminalisation of gay acts.

According to many reports, Malhotra read an out of date statement to the court.

The government said: “After the judgement of the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality was delivered, the matter was considered by the cabinet. The cabinet decided that the government may not appeal against the judgement to the Supreme Court.”

India’s courts struck down the dormant anti-gay law in 2009. Opponents have pursued the case to the Supreme Court, whom they hope will reintroduce the law.

Hearings continue.

More: Asia, Asia, courts, criminalisation, decriminalisation, India, Law, supreme court

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