The decision of the Union Government to not scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which considers homosexuality to be a criminal offence has come as a huge setback to the Gay community and the human rights groups supporting their cause.
The law against homosexuals in India states,
“Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”
Homosexuals have always been discriminated against in our country and have found no political backing whatsoever. No political party has ever come out in support of them and it has only been the Indian Film Industry and some NGO’s that have been fighting for their rights.
Meanwhile, the government has put an end to the debate where the century old laws relating to homosexuals be changed by categorically denying that such a change is needed. The law as it stands has not served any purpose for barely have any homosexuals been convicted in the last few years but they have always been discriminated against and face harassment from the society for their sexual orientation.
What is ironic is that the law against homosexuals in India has been present from the time of the colonial rule. The British for that matter themselves realized their folly and changed the law way back in 1967, and even went on to allow gay marriages in the UK from the year 2005 onwards. The move created a rage of gay marriages in the UK with more than five thousand gay couples getting married on the made the new law came into effect. The law in UK made in the year 1967 goes on to say,
(a) A homosexual act in private shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of sixteen years
(b) A homosexual act by any person shall not be an offence if he is under the age of sixteen years and the other party has attained that age.
But the Indian government has still not changed this obsolete law though the British woke up to their mistake more than forty years ago. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was once asked by a journalist as to what he thought of the new law in Canada to allow Gay marriages, to which he said, “There would not be much appreciation for a law like that in India.”
The Ministry of Health under Ambumani Ramadoss has also come out in support of the Gay groups by stating that with the present laws there are more chances of people catching the AIDS virus. The National AIDS control in a report filed to the government stated that in the case of homosexuals, the chances of AIDS are higher because they are reluctant to accept this is front of society and hence such discussions are always pushed below the carpet. The report also stated that almost seventy percent of homosexuals know about the dangers of AIDS but yet only thirty six percent use condoms.
On one side the Indian government is hell bent on reducing the chances of people contracting AIDS by their condom campaign, but on the other side they do not want to change the present law. When in June this year, there were Gay parades in the Indian capital several anti gay groups had tried to get that scrapped as well but the parades went on as planned. The gay community has been protesting against the present laws for they are not only discriminatory but are against the rules of any civilized society. For the time being the gay community will have to keep pushing until their demands get met.