Following his recent efforts to legalize homosexuality in India, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the country should recognize the increasing acceptance of homosexuality worldwide because such tolerance would ensure “an effective fight against AIDS,” IANS/Thaindian News reports (IANS/Thaindian News, 9/29).
Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code — which was established under British rule in 1860 — homosexuality is a crime that carries a punishment of life in prison. The Delhi High Court had been holding daily hearings on a petition that sought to legalize homosexuality, which was supported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare but opposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to the Centre Party, legalizing homosexuality would have adverse health effects, and the party asked the court to ignore Ramadoss’ position on legalizing homosexuality. The health ministry wants to make homosexuality nonpunishable particularly because of the latest figures from the National AIDS Control Organisation that estimate there are 22 million men who have sex with men in the country.