Singh wants ministers to decide on homosexuality legalisation

Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has asked Health Minister A Ramadoss and Home Minister Shivraj Patil to sit together and resolve their differences over the issue of legalising homosexuality.

“The prime minister has directed the two ministers to sit together and discuss the matter and sort out differences,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

He said the cabinet deferred a decision on the issue, which was being argued before the court.

The two ministries have been filing contradictory affidavits in the Delhi High Court over past few months, making a mockery of government. The court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which bans sexual relations among the people of the same gender.

“Whatever the court decides, we will agree,” Sibal said.

The court had pulled up the government on Wednesday for relying on religious texts to justify the prohibition on gay and lesbian sex and asked it to come up with scientific reports to justify it. The issue has become controversial with Ramadoss saying that he would take up the matter with the prime minister after his ministry was denounced by the Home Ministry before the court. The Home Ministry is opposing the Health Ministry’s suggestion for legalising homosexuality. The Home Ministry is against decriminalising homosexuality on moral grounds while the Health Ministry has proposed abolishing the penal provision, which carries a punishment of up to life imprisonment for such acts.

The health minister had sought legalisation of homosexuality arguing that it can help in better treatment of people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

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