Indians Challenge Anti-Gay Laws
The Data Lounge,
January 21, 2003
NEW DELHI—A court in New Delhi has told the Indian
government it has exactly one month to respond to a suit brought by an AIDS
organization seeking immediate repeal of anti-gay sex laws.
The Indian Express reports New Delhi High Court Chief Justices Devinder
Gupta and B.D. Ahmed told the government to file an affidavit making clear its
stand on the sex laws within four weeks.
The Naaz Foundation, which brought the suit, said police use the threat of
the law to harass gay people, who are justifiably afraid to come forward to
seek AIDS prevention help. The foundation said the anti-gay harassment is a
violation of their 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 Indian police regularly harass anti-AIDS campaigners who try to
provide condoms and disease-prevention information.
The extent of HIV and AIDS in India is still in some dispute. The
government puts prevalence in the general population just below one percent
though estimates from the United Nations and international relief agencies
believe the true figure may be substantially higher.
The issue has become a sensitive one politically. Indian Health Minister
Shatrughan Sinha in November lashed out at US Ambassador Robert Blackwill for
spreading what he called AIDS panic.
A recent US report predicted that AIDS could affect as many as 25 million
people in India by 2010 if it is not checked.
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