Legalise homosexuality: Ramadoss

MEXICO CITY: The gay community in India, fighting for social and legal acceptance, has found a friend in no less a person than Union health minister A Ramadoss, who assured them of all help in legalising homosexuality in the country.

Addressing a 250-strong India session at the International AIDS Conference here on Thursday, he strongly campaigned for the changing the law which makes homosexuality illegal. "Section 377 of IPC, which criminalizes men who have sex with men, must go," he said, at the risk of inviting a political reaction back home.

Under the IPC, sex between two men is considered "against the order of nature". Ramadoss’s comments came a day after TOI reported how men who have sex with men (MSMs) were posing to be India’s greatest challenge in its fight against AIDS.

National Aids Control Organization (NACO) estimates that India is home to 2.5 million MSMs of which 100,000 are at high risk of contracting HIV due to multi-partner and commercial sexual practices. Already, 15% of this community have got infected with the deadly disease.

Kountenya Sinha, for TNN

Ramadoss said, "MSMs are our major concern. We have to contain the epidemic within this community. The number of targeted interventions specially for this community is being scaled up tremendously." The minister also called for a relook into the impending Bill to amend the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act.

The Bill was moved in Parliament in 2006 by the ministry of women and child development headed by Renuka Chowdhury.

Chowdhury’s Bill also drew criticism at the India session from UNAIDS chief Peter Piot, who said, "The Bill has raised concerns that it would push prostitution underground."

According to a recent report by the world’s first independent commission on AIDS in Asia-Pacific, the HIV epidemic in Asia is mainly driven by men who go for paid sex. While 75 million men in Asia visit sex workers, 10 million women sell sex to these men.

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