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Stigmatising Gays

Addressing a conference about HIV/AID on 4 July 2011, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that sex between two men is “completely unnatural and shouldn’t happen”. These outrageous remarks linking consensual sexual activity to a disease simply encourage discrimination against men who have sex with men. The health minister must retract his comments, and the Indian government must reaffirm its commitment to protect the rights of all of its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or consensual sexual behaviour.

In a landmark judgment, India decriminalised homosexuality in 2009. India has come a long way in the past decade in protecting its vulnerable populations, including its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups. The Government of India appears to be engaging in double standards here: On the one hand, they have decriminalised homosexuality and taken a significant step towards ensuring that people in India can express their sexual orientation. On the other, its chief public health officer is pathologising homosexuality. This is a severe setback for sexual rights.

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