iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 28, 2014
In a possible easing of stance of the RSS, a spokesperson of the right-wing outfit — ideological mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP — has said criminalisation of homosexuality is questionable. The Supreme Court on December 11 last year set aside a landmark 2009 Delhi high court verdict decriminalising gay sex, and revived Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that makes gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment. The SC, however, said the government was free to annul the law through a legislation.

In an interview with national daily Business Standard, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said: “As for Section 377, let us see what stand the government takes on this issue. But I can say this — that while glorification of certain forms of social behaviour is not something we endorse, the penalising and criminalisation aspects need to be looked into. Whether to call homosexuality a crime and treat it as one in this day and age is questionable.”

BJP president Rajnath Singh said last year his party backed Section 377 despite widespread demand to decriminalise gay sex. Endorsing the SC’s verdict, Singh said the BJP supported Section 377 as they believe homosexuality was an unnatural act and could not be supported.

Amid widespread public outrage, the Centre had moved the SC with a plea to review its verdict, calling it a grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT persons. The review petitions filed before the SC argued that its verdict amounted to a violation of the fundamental rights of the LGBT community and also hampered HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

Madhav, who is in-charge of public relations at the RSS, however, supported the BJP over Article 370 in the interview. “Most of our members are thinking young adults who discuss these issues. Our stand on Article 370 and the Uniform Civil Code is similar to BJP's,” he said.

The Modi government had a stormy start on Tuesday after minister-of-state in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh claimed that the process to repeal Article 370 — which provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) – had begun.