Monday, December 8, 2008

A Matter of Interpretation?

Debate is ongoing in India. The sodomy law, introduced by the British during the days as a colony is being challenged. LGBTI activists (and Public Health Proffessionals) argue that criminalisation of homosexuality is one of the key factors that has is important in the spread of HIV.

They argue that criminalisation should be repealed, so that HIV is tackled frankly and openly.

So, they have taken the state to court. And it seems to be a very interesting , the debate that is. But here is a point which the government is pushing vigorously.

Homosexuality needs to be curbed as it spreads HIV/AIDS: Centre to HC

7 Dec 2008, 1114 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Justifying criminalisation of homosexuality in the country, the Centre has pleaded before the Delhi High that it is one of the main reasons for spread of HIV/AIDS

and needs to be curbed.

In a written submission filed by Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, the Centre said that legalising Men having sex with Men (MSM), as pleaded by gay rights activists, would lead to spread of the dreaded disease and placed reports of various countries to substantiate its stand.

"In Zambia, one in three (33%) surveyed men who have sex with men tested HIV-positive. In the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, 43% of men who said they had sex only with other men were found to be living with HIV," the government said, quoting the United Nations report on Global AIDS Epidemic, 2008.

"In Bangkok, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men rose from 17% in 2003 to 28% in 2005 and it is estimated that as many as 21% new HIV infections in Thailand in 2005 were attributable to unprotected sex between men," the Centre said.

The 100-page written submission was filed by the Centre as the court, while reserving the order, had allowed the government to file any additional submission in a written form.

Centre's response came on a PIL filed by gay rights activists seeking the court's direction to decriminalise gay sex among consenting adults in private.

At present, homosexuality is an offence in the country and Section 377 of Indian Penal Code provides punishment for up to life imprisonment for engaging in such acts.

Its so easy to refute this point that I wonder at how someone can still bring this up!

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