Homosexuality is a “humane issue” and the government has not taken a “final view” on legalising it, said Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday.
“It is a humane issue, we have to study various aspects and take a final view. The debate is on,” he told reporters in Bangalore after the Supreme Court set up a five-judge panel to re-examine a British-era law that criminalises homosexual acts.
“The government has, to my knowledge, not formulated any final view, but it is now before the court, let us await what is going to happen,” said Naidu, who is in charge of the parliamentary affairs and urban development ministries.
“I have no personal view, because as a minister people should not talk about personal view,” he said when he was asked if his view was personal.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur said it would be appropriate to refer Section 377 to a five-judge panel because it involved issues concerning the country’s constitution. No date has been set for the hearing by the five-member constitution bench.
In 2009, a Delhi High Court declared unconstitutional Section 377, which calls gay sex “against the order of nature” and makes it punishable by up to a decade in prison. But the verdict was overturned four years later by the Supreme Court, saying that only Parliament can change the 1861 law.
In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. “We have always been told whom you want to love is a matter of choice and that personal choice must be respected by the society at large. Sec 377 as far as LGBT community isconcerned needs to be decriminalised. Delhi High Court judgement was a welcome step in this direction that was reversed,” he said.