Last edited: February 14, 2005

UN Human Rights Commission Opens Doors to Sexual Minorities Government of India Condemned

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
For Immediate Release: April 11, 2002

GENEVA—The treatment of sexual minorities in India was denounced today at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. This is only the third time ever that direct testimonies of abuse based on sexual orientation have been heard by this high-level body.

On Monday, Mr. Aditya Bondyopadhyay—and Indian lawyer and gay activist—together with high ranking UN officials, spoke at an NGO Briefing of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Today he was allowed to speak to the Commission itself.

He reported that not only sexual minorities, but HIV/AIDS workers doing outreach to them, have been subjected to police harassment, arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, and torture. He called on the UN to hold the government of India responsible for such abuses.

"The Indian government must ensure that legitimate health interventions are protected by the law," declared Mr. Bondyopadhyay. "India encourages outreach to sexual minorities through its Ministry of Health—then punishes and abuses the outreach workers through the police and the Ministry of Justice, because homosexual conduct remains against the law. This double-dealing is dangerous and appalling."

Mr. Bondyopadhyay referred to the "Lucknow 4" case, in which four HIV prevention workers were detained, beaten, and charged with conspiring to commit "unnatural sex acts" under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

"The United Nations meets this year with a renewed commitment to ensuring global economic and social justice," said IGLHRC’s Program Director, Mr. Scott Long, who accompanied Mr. Bondyopadhyay to Geneva. "Delegates must understand how patterns of blatant inequality in countries such as India prevent millions of people from enjoying the right to health. The wages of discrimination, where HIV/AIDS is concerned, are death."

"Section 377 damages the heath of the State as well: Police blackmail, extort, rape and physically abuse their victims, who in turn pay up bribes to avoid arbitrary arrests. This is a question of corruption, simply because Section 377 is one of the most lucrative and easy sources of supplemental income for the police," added Mr. Bondyopadhyay.

The complete text of Mr. Bondyopadhyay’s report can be found at

Background information on the "LUcknow 4" case can be found at

Only twice before has the UN Commission on Human Rights heard the voices of lesbians, gay, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people describing their situations: in the past, Mr. Douglas Sanders, representing the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and Ms. Elizabeth Khaxas, a lesbian activist from Namibia, have surveyed the conditions for LGBT people in testimony to the Commission.

The complete text of Ms. Khaxas’ 2000 testimony can be found at

The UN Commission on Human Rights, composed of 53 States, meets each year in regular session in March/April for six weeks in Geneva. Over 3,000 delegates from member and observer States and from non-governmental organizations participate.

During its regular annual session, the Commission adopts about a hundred resolutions, decisions and Chairperson’s statements on matters of relevance to individuals in all regions and circumstances.

For more information on the UN Commission on Human Rights, see

The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects this mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.

For additional information, contact:
Sydney Levy, +1-415-255-8680 (office), +1-415-577-8680 (cell), Scott Long (in Geneva, use this number until Saturday April 13):
Aditya Bondyopadhyay (in Geneva, use this number until Saturday April 13): +41-79-470-1782

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