U.N. Calls on India To Decriminalize Homosexuality
The United Nations has called on India to decriminalize homosexuality, saying the move would help in the fight against HIV/AIDS by allowing intervention programs such as ones that have been successful in other countries, AFP/Google.com. The Delhi High Court currently is considering a suit brought by advocates to decriminalize homosexuality, which was deemed illegal by a British colonial-era law and is punishable by a fine and a 10-year prison sentence.
Jeffrey O'Malley, director of the United Nations Development Programme, on Friday said that countries protecting men who have sex with men from discrimination are better able to curb the transmission of the virus. Although India -- where about 2.4 million people are HIV-positive -- has witnessed a decrease in new cases, O'Malley said that "rates of new infections among men who have sex with men continue to go up." He added, "Until we acknowledge these behaviors and work with people involved with these behaviors, we are not going to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic." O'Malley also said countries where homosexuality is not illegal, such as China, have seen greater success in preventing the spread of HIV. "In China, male homosexuality has never been illegal. So there aren't any of these legal barriers to prevention work," he said. O'Malley also said that Brazil has scaled up its HIV/AIDS prevention efforts by combining legal status for MSM with anti-homophobia campaigns. India's Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has said that decriminalizing homosexuality would help bring India's largely hidden MSM community into the open, AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 11/7).
In related news, the Delhi High Court on Thursday said that male-to-male sexual contact does not cause bodily injury, objecting to claims from senior BJP party leader B.P. Singhal that sexual activity among MSM causes injury and should not be allowed, even among consenting adults, the PTI/Hindustan Times reports. The court said, "In several countries where" such a ban "has been lifted, no one has claimed the act is injurious," adding that the World Health Organization "does not say that it causes injuries to people involved in such acts."
According to the PTI/Times, advocates in court said that research in foreign countries has established that decriminalization of homosexuality does not result in the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The high court previously said that the problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be solved by curbing male-to-male sexual contact (PTI/Hindustan Times, 11/6).