Upbeat over Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss calling for the legalisation of homosexuality, the gay community in India feels that his "progressive" stand will help their cause.
Several members from the community who are fighting against section 377 of the IPC, which penalises homosexuality, are now planning to strengthen their campaign as they feel "a favourable wind is blowing in their direction".
The minister, during his address at the 17th International Conference on AIDS in Mexico City recently, said, "Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalise men who have sex with men, must go."
Aditya Bandhopadhyay, a gay-rights activist who attended the conference, told PTI from Mexico City, "I hope that the minister will now persuade his more medieval-minded cabinet colleagues and make them understand that human rights are universal and one cannot be discriminated against for sexual orientation."
"In spite of section 377, homosexuals have continued to live, love and have sex in India, so it is really immaterial to the IPC act. It has only stigmatised and made homosexuals more vulnerable, thereby increasing their risks of contracting HIV, which ultimately is a public health concern," Bandhopadhyay, a lawyer by profession, said.
Terming the minister's stand as "a great opportunity" for the community to fulfil their mission, Manvendra Singh Gohil, the gay prince of Rajpipala in Gujarat, said, "It will help not only the homosexuals in India but also in several neighbouring countries, where the practice is being considered as a crime."