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Gays have no legal rights: ministry

The Law Ministry is opposed to Ramadoss's demand of scrapping section 377 of the IPC, which prescribes a sentence of up to life imprisonment for those indulging in "unnatural sex", reports Nagendar Sharma.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2008 08:34 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss's demand to legalise homosexuality in the country will remain a pipedream.

The Law Ministry is opposed to his demand of scrapping section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which prescribes a sentence of up to life imprisonment for those indulging in "unnatural sex".

"This is a section not merely confined to gay rights, it acts as an effective deterrent against paedophiles and those with sick minds," a senior Law Ministry official said.

He said Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj would convey the ministry's stand to the cabinet that "tampering with the well laid out provisions of the IPC could unsettle the legal framework in the country".

The cabinet would have to decide its final stand before September 18, the scheduled date on which it has to state its collective stand before the Delhi High Court, and not the views of individual ministries.

The court is hearing a petition filed by Naz Foundation, a voluntary organisation seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality in India.

The stand taken by the Law Ministry has brought to the fore the serious contradictions within the government on this issue.

Its view is similar to that of the Home Ministry, which is responsible for the implementation of the IPC in the country, but the stand of these two ministries is completely opposite to that of the Health Ministry. Ramadoss has been consistently demanding that "Section 377 which criminalises men who have sex with men must go, in order to remove structural discrimination against those vulnerable to HIV".

The Home Ministry has opposed the argument in court. In its reply to the court, the ministry said: "Removal of section 377 will open floodgates of delinquent behaviour".

Following opposing stands of Home and Health ministries, the court had asked the government to file an affidavit stating the collective view of the cabinet.