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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Gay rights get political voice in poll season

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 22, 2014
First Published: 20:45 IST(22/3/2014) | Last Updated: 20:56 IST(22/3/2014)
Homosexuals may not have the numbers to determine future of a political party but their voice has found some space in the political firmament this election season.
 
The CPM was first to promise decriminalisation of gay sex in its manifesto announced earlier this week, saying it would amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code so that consensual relationship between adults should not be criminalised.
 
Now, the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is expected to follow suit by stating that it would remove the legal stigma attached with gay sex in its manifesto soon. 
 
The Congress had said that homosexuality between adults should not be considered a crime.
 
The BJP initially was against decriminalisation of gay sex but later its leader Arun Jaitley backed the Delhi High Court order on scrapping Section 377.
 
The controversy had erupted after the Supreme Court termed gay sex as illegal and an offence in December, 2013.    
 
Anjali Gopalan, a gay rights activist, said CPM has taken a "wonderful step" forward and added that the Congress and AAP had also spoken in favour of decriminalising homosexuality.
 
Bhuvan Mehta, a travel operator for gays in the city, added that the political parties should realise that it was not a political but social issue.
 
"It concerns the social rights of so many people who deserve the freedom to lead their lives the way they want. It should not be mixed with politics," he said.
For the first time the Election Commission listed homosexuals as a separate gender in the electoral rolls in 2014.
 
The Supreme Court in December, 2013 had set aside the Delhi High Court order decriminalising gay sex. The court had said that homosexuality or unnatural sex between two consenting adults under Section 377 of IPC was illegal and will continue to be an offence.
 
The Centre has filed a curative petition in the apex court against the order.

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