India's gay law breeds intolerance, says UN chief

  • AFP, Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 13, 2015 12:42 IST

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has accused India of fomenting intolerance with its ban on gay sex amid uproar over a Goa minister's plans to make homosexuals "normal".

Speaking on a visit to the capital New Delhi, Ban said he "staunchly opposed the criminalisation of homosexuality" referring to Section 377, India's colonial-era law, that prohibits gay sex.

"I am proud to stand for the equality of all people--including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender," the UN secretary general said in a statement late Monday.

"I speak out because laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance."

The Supreme Court reimposed a ban on gay sex in late 2013, ruling that the responsibility for changing the 1861 law rested with lawmakers and not judges.

Gay sex had been effectively legalised in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that banning "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" was a violation of fundamental rights.

Ban's comments came on the same day that a Goa minister, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party, announced his plans to make gays "normal" in the state.

Ramesh Tawadkar, sports and youth affairs minister in Goa government, told reporters that he planned to open up centres on the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous to treat them.

"We will make them normal. We will have centres for them, like Alcoholic Anonymous centres," Tawadkar said, adding that the state would "train them and give them medicines too".

Tawadkar made the comments after releasing the state's policy on youth issues which listed lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders as a stigmatised group that needed attention.

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