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“Disease”, “dangerous,” “curable”: What key public figures in India think of homosexuality

Reuters/Adnan Abidi
It’s about time.
By Kuwar Singh
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The supreme court of India is set to give a ruling on a plea to legalise gay sex in the country later today (Sept. 06).

While over the past two decades the discourse on queer rights has emerged gradually into the public domain, it received a major thrust in 2009 (pdf), when the Delhi high court ruled in favour of an eight-year-old petition to decriminalise homosexuality.

Since then, several public figures have issued statements, which range from the incorrect to the abusive, in favour of retaining the Indian Penal Code’s section 377 that criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature.”

Here are some of the more egregious ones:

Yogi Adityanath, now the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh

In December 2013, when he was a member of parliament of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said (translated from Hindi):

“Homosexuality is dangerous to social morality. If social norms and boundaries are done away with, then there is not much difference between man and animal…
I feel that to associate this kind of cheap sophistry with religious texts is gross immorality… There should be no social sanction if someone wants to do at a traffic junction what one does at home. It shouldn’t receive any constitutional status either.”

Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha

In July 2011, when he was union minister of health and family welfare, Azad, a Congress party member, was speaking at a convention on HIV/AIDS. There he said:

“Unfortunately, this disease has come to the world and to our country where a man has sex with another man. This is completely unnatural and should not happen, but it’s happening. In our country, too, the number of men having sex with men is high…
The disease of men having sex with men (MSM) is unnatural and not good for India. We are not able to identify where it is happening as it is less reported… It is a challenge because in cases of female sex workers we can identify the community and reach out to them. But in case of MSM, it is becoming difficult.”

Subramanian Swamy, BJP member of parliament

In December 2013, he said:

Legitimising homosexuality leads to commercial profit since gay bars will be opened in all cities on foreign direct investment. It is a genetic flaw celebrated.

In January this year, Swamy said:

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev

I invite the gay community to my yoga ashram and I guarantee to cure them of homosexuality. (December 2013)

Zakir Naik, Islamic preacher and tele-evangelist

Generally, naturally, no human being loves the same sex… it is not genetic.

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