Last edited: February 14, 2005

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 Thursday.

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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