Last edited: February 14, 2005

‘Kids at Risk if Homosexuality Is Legalised’

Express News Service, February 2, 2003

Express News Service

New Delhi, India—Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said that homosexuality should not be legalised as it would increase the sexual abuse of street children.

Speaking at an open house discussion organised by NGO Prayas, Prasad said: "Unnatural carnal offences have no legitimacy on the grounds of fundamental liberties and human rights. Our individual behaviour is subjected to social morality, social conditions and social behaviour."

Prayas will be sending a plea to Law Minister Arun Jaitely "on behalf of the street children at risk".

The Minister criticised the case filed by NAZ Foundation to legalise homsexuality and amend Article 377 of the Constitution, which makes sex between men illegal.

The Foundation, which works on AIDS, had filed a case last year to amend the Article on "unnatural sexual acts", arguing that it was a human rights violation against the sexual minority.

Naz Foundation members said that countries all over the world had recognised the rights of the gay community but India was yet to do so.

Social workers working with Naz said that people kept their homosexuality under wraps because it’s illegal. This was preventing them from extending the AIDS campaign to the community. "The police exploits Article 377 to put gay people behind the bars and abuse them," said a Foundation worker.

Amod Kanth, Joint Commissioner of Police and Prayas general secretary, said those below 18 years and living on the streets are often subjected to violence and sexual abuse. At least 20 per cent of the street children have been sexually abused. "Boys are often abused by men, belying the perception that the male child is safe," said Kanth.

Prof. S.D. Sharma of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences said very few people are gay—2.7 per cent men and 1.3 per cent women. Homosexuality, he said, was considered a disease till 1990 in the United States. Research had showed that homosexuality resulted in more suicides, alcoholism and an increased risk of HIV/AIDS.

Shaleen Rakesh of Naz Foundation, however, pointed out that the rights of homosexuals are now openly recognised and accepted in the United States and it was the "stigma related to AIDS rather than the disease which may be lead to suicides or alcohol abuse".

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