Monday, August 25, 2008

Indian Health Minister stresses need to scrap law prohibiting homosexuality

Health Minister stresses need to scrap Section 377

Reiterating that the law penalising homosexuality was hampering the AIDS control programme, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Friday said that “good judicial verdicts” on the matter would not only remove the stigma associated with it but would also have a positive impact on the campaign.

Ramadoss said the country has 23 lakh population which falls in the category of “men having sex with men’”. Of these, 10 per cent are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

“Section 377 (law prohibiting homosexuality) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) makes intervention in this crucial segment difficult. If the section is scrapped, it will help a great deal in removing the stigma and improving access to target groups.

“Good judicial verdicts in the ongoing cases will have a positive effect on our efforts,” Ramadoss said while inaugurating a photo exhibition on AIDS awareness at a Delhi Metro station. He said the Ministry was lobbying with the agencies concerned for removal of Section 377.

Noting that the country’s AIDS control programme had started showing results with the incidence of AIDS on the decline, he said the Government was expanding the AIDS control measures to new areas too.

“India’s dedicated focus on HIV prevention is fetching dividends. We are seeing the beginning of the stabilisation of the epidemic in the country,” he said.

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