Cong Split over Decriminalising Homosexuality

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government is divided over Delhi High Court’s order decriminalising gay sex.

Congress’ leaders from Muslim and Catholic Christian communities are opposed to the idea. The leaders include MPs and also Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Sources said that Azad, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, is opposing homosexuality as he is bothered about reaction of Muslim votebank.

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, too, is standing with Azad on the issue. Ravi comes from Kerala and does not want to alienate the Catholics who form a major votebank in the state.

“This is a non-issue. This is a country of poor people and this issue is being raked up by the elite. It concerns only the elite so we are not bothered. The government will decide when to reply but as far as I am concerned this is an issue of the elite with which we are not agreeing,” said Ravi outside Parliament in New Delhi on Friday.

But some other senior ministers including Union home Minister P Chidambaram have been supporting Delhi High Court’s order.

Law minister Veerappa Moily is also in favour of decriminalising homosexuality but under pressure to create consensus, wants to explore all legal options.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is presently attending the G8-G5 Summit in L’Aquila (Italy), wants a consensus on the issue and has directed the Council of Ministers that differences between the three ministries – Home, Health and Law – must be reconciled.

Meanwhile, All India Congress Committee Minority Cell Chairman chief Imran Kidwai also claimed that many MPs from the minority community were opposed to legalising homosexuality.

“There is no real change in Section 377. The Delhi High Court order is only trying to prevent abuse against gays. I am personally against this (legalising homosexuality). I hope the government will take into consideration religious sentiments. It is forbidden in Islam,” said Kidwai.

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