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Change Indian sodomy law: US body

Human rights watchdog has also asked for protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 15:08 IST

A US human rights watchdog has urged the Indian Government to change "colonial-era" sodomy laws to end discrimination against gays.

It has also asked Indiato provide for protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Human Rights Watch referred to January 4 incident in which, it said, Lucknow police had arrested four men on the charge of operating a "gay racket" on Internet as well as engaging in "unnatural" sex.

The police action, it added, shows that India's "colonial era" sodomy laws continue to threaten human rights and encourage the spread of HIV.

"Lucknow police have a shameful record of harassing gay men as well as non-governmental organizations that work with them," said Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Programme, claimed.

"They are able to do so because India's government clings to the criminalisation of homosexual conduct, which only prevents people from coming forward for HIV/AIDS testing, information, and services," the letter said.

India's Constitution, the letter said, protects the right to equality, freedoms of speech and assembly and right to personal liberty.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India acceded in 1979, guarantees freedom from discrimination.

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 13:57 IST