India Court: Govt Must Clarify Stand On Gay Relations
Associated Press, January 16, 2003
NEW DELHI—A court has ordered the Indian government
to respond within a month to an anti-AIDS organization’s suit seeking an end
to the law that makes homosexual relations a crime, a newspaper reported
New Delhi High Court Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice B.D. Ahmed
told the government to file an affidavit within four weeks making clear its
stand, the Indian Express reported.
There have been few cases in recent years of prosecution under the law that
declares homosexual activity a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
But the Naaz Foundation, which brought the suit, said police use the threat
of the law to harass homosexuals, who are afraid to come forward to seek AIDS
prevention help. The foundation said the harassment is a violation of
homosexuals’ human rights.
"Despite a number of adjournments, no affidavit is filed by the (the
federal government) and a last opportunity is given to it to submit it within
four weeks," the judges said in their order Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights group, said in a report last
year that police also harass anti-AIDS campaigners who try to provide condoms
and disease-prevention information.
About 4 million people in India, or 0.7% of the country’s adult
population, suffer from AIDS, the government says. But some experts suggest
the actual number of AIDS sufferers is more than twice as high and note that
the disease in India, with more than 1 billion people, is spreading fast.
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