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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

World

Pro-Modi group, US state department slam 377 ruling
Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times
Washington, December 12, 2013
First Published: 20:11 IST(12/12/2013)
Last Updated: 20:14 IST(12/12/2013)

The Hindu American Foundation, a small but increasingly influential supporter of Narendra Modi, became on Wednesday a surprising opponent of the Supreme Court’s gay turnaround.

 It joined many pro-gay rights groups here and in India, and the US state department, to condemn the apex court’s ruling re-criminalizing homosexuality.

“No law should interfere in a consensual relationship of two individuals behind closed doors,” said the foundation’s director of public policy Harsh Voruganti,

“We had hoped that the Indian Supreme Court would have upheld the lower court's progressive decision.”

The foundation supports BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and lobbied lawmakers against a House resolution critical of him, that now has no chance of passing.

The foundation supports most issues important to the rest of the Hindutva front, including the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, but it has struck out on its own on homosexuality.

Modi’s own party, the BJP, meanwhile, has struggled to come up with a coherent response, with its spokespersons saying the party had not yet taken a stand.

“The essential core of Hindu teachings is that an individual's value is not based on his or her sexual orientation,” said Swaminathan Venkataraman, also of the foundation.

The US state department also opposed the ruling, expressing concern over the Supreme Court ruling under relentless questioning at the daily briefing on Wednesday.

“Any action that criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct between adults that doesn’t recognize that fundamental freedoms of people include their right to sexual orientation – those are issues that we certainly would be concerned about, as we are here,” said state department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The issue also figured in talks held by visiting foreign secretary Sujatha Singh with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But, sources insisted, it was merely an observation not criticism.

But LGBT groups here were understandably more forthcoming.


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