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Rediff.com  » News » Gay sex comment: 'How can Ghulam Nabi Azad be so ignorant'

Gay sex comment: 'How can Ghulam Nabi Azad be so ignorant'

July 23, 2011 13:27 IST

Nearly 20 members of Trikone, a non-profit organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of South Asian descent, rallied in front of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on Friday to condemn Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's remarks about homosexual acts being unnatural.

The protesters were carrying placards written, "It is not a western import."

"We want to show that the biggest democracy in the world has failed. The people in San Francisco know what he has said in India is an embarrassment for us because our own health minister does not know basic health rights," said Harsha Mallajosyula, advocacy director at Trikone.

"I initially couldn't believe that a minister of the world's biggest democracy is so ignorant," said Mallajosyula. He added that he heard the video of Azad's speech several times and was in shock.

"I thought the Delhi high court had clearly stated that transgenders, lesbians and gays have equal rights as citizens of the country," said Mallajosyula.

The members said the minister used words such as 'unnatural' and 'national import' to describe homosexual sex, which were inaccurate.

"I guess basically this is clear ignorance. I am really disappointed the way things are done with it," lamented Mallajosyula.

On July 4, while speaking at a HIV/AIDS conference in India, Azad called sexual acts of men who have sex with men (MSM) "unnatural".

In his speech, Azad also mentioned the difficulty in "detecting" MSMs in general population. He went on to say that the act of men having sex with men should not be happening in India.

The health minister's comments caused a massive uproar across the country and drew sharp criticism from international agencies such as UNAIDS.

Faced with mounting pressure, Azad issued a clarification, accusing the media of taking his words "out of context".
Mallajosyula said Trikone strongly condemned criminalising homosexual conduct.

Such antiquated attitudes only curtail the efforts of valiant community organisers in the country, who are working on the ground and adopting grass root strategies to encourage and establish models of testing and safe-sex practices, he said.

"Like our sister organisations in India, Trikone has lost faith in Azad to lead the country as the health minister or provide much needed services to this community. His personal judgments and remarks over the last weekend have cast looming questions over his ability to think and lead with clarity," said the organisation

"Unless an unequivocal apology is issued by the health minister and corrective actions suggested, we demand his ouster," said Mallajosyula.

Ritu Jha