Last edited: September 06, 2004

India Rejects Challenge to Anti-Gay Law UK, September 6, 2004

By Ben Townley, UK

A challenge to India’s legal system, which outlaws gay acts, has been dismissed by the high court in Delhi.

The challenge, organised by the Naz Foundation, sought to make homosexuality legal. At present, the country still has a colonial-era law that bans “unnatural criminal behaviour”.

But those behind the foundation said this goes against LGBT people’s human rights, and could hamper the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as affect their mental health.

It added that such laws were out of step with modern living.

However, the high court ruled that the law should stand, and dismissed the Foundation’s petition.

It said the law could not be challenged by the group, a voluntary organisation that advises the country’s sexual minorities on HIV and AIDS, since it was “not affected by it”.

Previously, the government’s lawyers had argued that the legislation was intended to protect the morality of Indian society, and would continue to do so.

“While the right to respect for private and family life is undisputed, interference by public authority in the interest of public safety and protection of health and morals is equally permissible,” the BBC quotes a government affidavit as saying.

It claimed that legalising homosexuality would lead to a rise in “unnatural” activity.

Homosexuality is still illegal in many countries across the world, including countries in East Africa and across southern Asia.

High profile campaigns against anti-gay laws have been seen in Egypt and Jamaica in recent years, although the majority of these have been dismissed by the country’s courts and governments.

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