Criminalizing Gays By Misusing Anti-Gay Sex Law Not Acceptable, Says Mumbai Chief Of Ruling Party

Published: August 17, 2014

 ‘Criminalizing the gay community by misusing section 377 of the IPC [Indian Penal Code] is not acceptable to the [ruling] BJP,’ Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar told some 250 attendees at a special Independence Day event ‘Acceptance Meet’ On Friday. The meeting was organized by The Humsafar Trust, an NGO in Mumbai which promotes LGBTI rights, and other community organizations.

‘Decriminalising consensual sex between two adults is a pressing need,’ he said, adding that he intends to raise the issue with prime minister Narendra Modi, according to India’s Daily News & Analysis.

‘The Union minister of health Harsh Vardhan, has already shown his support for the cause. I also think parliament cannot ignore something which affects such a large number of people.’

He also twitted on Friday: ‘If the issues raised by Humsafar concerns 4 crore [40 million] people than surely it deserves a parliamentary debate. Will surely try for this #LGBT’.

The chief’s comments are significant as the ruling BJP party has previously supported the Supreme Court’s ruling making gay sex illegal.

Gay rights advocates at the event however challenged members of the LGBT community to file Right to Information (RTI) applications and follow-up complaints of extortion if the police try to harass LGBTs with decoys.

‘Political parties like the BJP and Congress won’t push for doing something because they’re more worried about their conservative vote bank,’ lawyer-activist and a former member of the Indian Police Service Y P Singh was quoted as saying.

Founder-chairperson of the Humsafar Trust and one of India’s most prominent LGBTI rights activists Ashok Row Kavi said the re-criminalisation of homosexuality by the Supreme Court in Dec 2013 has increased the instances police persecution and extortion. ‘The police invokes Sec 110 of the Bombay Police Act, to harass homosexuals. They then have the freedom to decide what constitutes indecency.’

In December last year, the Supreme Court of India set aside a 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that legalized homosexuality, passing the issue back to lawmakers to deal with in a major setback for LGBTI rights the country.

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