Indian govt split over HC order on anti-gay ruling

NEW DELHI: The Congress-led United Progressive government is split down the middle over Delhi High Court’s order decriminalising homosexuality.

Congress’ Muslim and Catholic Christian leaders and MPs including Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad are opposing legalising homosexuality.

Sources said Azad, who is from Jammu and Kashmir, is opposing homosexuality as he is concerned about reaction of Muslim votebank.

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, too, is standing with Azad on the issue. Ravi comes from Kerala and does not want to alienate the Catholics who form a major votebank in the state.

“This is a non-issue. This is a country of poor people and this issue is being raked

up by the elite. It concerns only the elite so we are not bothered. The government will decide when to reply but as far as I am concerned this is an issue of the elite with which we are not agreeing,” said Ravi outside Parliament in New Delhi yesterday.

But some other senior ministers, including Union home Minister P Chidambaram, have been supporting Delhi High Court’s order.

Law minister Veerappa Moily is also in favour of decriminalising homosexuality but under pressure to create consensus, wants to explore all legal options.

PM Manmohan Singh, who is presently attending the G8-G5 Summit in L’Aquila in

Italy, wants a consensus on the issue and has directed the Council of Ministers that

differences between the three ministries — Home, Health and Law — must be reconciled.

Meanwhile, All India Congress Committee Minority Cell Chairman chief Imran Kidwai also claimed that many MPs from the minority community were opposed to legalising homosexuality.

“There is no real change in Section 377. The Delhi High Court order is only trying to prevent abuse against gays. I am personally against this

(legalising homosexuality),” said Kidwai.