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Allowing homosexuality will lead to delinquent behaviour: Indian Govt
September 08, 2003 22:45 IST
Last Updated: September 09, 2003 00:10 IST
After dilly-dallying and being ticked off by the Delhi high court, the Centre on Monday finally came out with its stand on homosexuality stating it cannot be legalised in India as society disapproves of such behaviour.
In its reply to a petition challenging the constitutional validity of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the government said, "Deletion of the said section can well open the flood gates of delinquent behaviour and be construed as providing unbridled licence for the same."
According to section 377, whoever voluntarily has sex against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to ten years.
Naz Foundation, an NGO working for the welfare of AIDS patients, has challenged the validity of this provision and sought to legalise homosexuality on the grounds that due to fear of police action, consenting adult males having sexual relations were not coming forward to disclose their problems though they were more prone to HIV infection.
"Indian society by and large disapproves of homosexuality and the disapproval is strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence even where adults indulge in it in private," the government said citing the Law Commission's 42nd report.
"The purpose of section 377 is to provide a healthy environment in society by criminalising unnatural sexual activities against the order of the nature. Studies of the criminal jurisprudence of section 377 of the IPC reveals that in India it has been basically used to punish sexual abuse of children and to compliment lacunae in the rape laws. It has rarely been used to punish homosexual behaviour.
"Law does not run separately from the society. It only reflects the perception of society. Public tolerance of different activities changes and legal categories get influenced by those changes," the Centre told the court.
"The public, notably in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, have shown tolerance of new sexual behaviour or sexual preference, but it is not the universally accepted behaviour. Objectively speaking, there is no such tolerance to the practice of homosexuality/lesbianism in Indian society," it submitted.
The division bench of Chief Justice B C Patel and Justice A K Sikri fixed December 10 for further hearing after the NGO sought time to prepare a rejoinder to the government affidavit filed through its counsel Aman Lekhi.
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