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Feb 23, 2012 at 02:11pm IST

Gay sex not moral, against social order: Home Ministry tells SC

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry on Thursday opposed decriminalisation of gay sex in the country before the Supreme Court. "This is highly immoral and against the social order," the Ministry told the apex court.

The Ministry said that India's moral and social values are different from those of other countries and India cannot be guided by them.

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Delhi High court had earlier passed a judgement which decriminalized Section - 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) covering a sexual act in private between consenting adults.

Homosexuality should be seen in the context of changing society as many things which were earlier unacceptable have become acceptable with passage of time, the Supreme Court had observed on February 16.

ALSO SEE What is IPC Section 377

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P P Malhotra, appearing for the ministry, argued that the Indian society is different from other countries and it cannot imitate the practices prevailing in foreign countries.

"Gay sex is highly immoral and against social order and there is high chance of spreading of diseases through such acts," ASG Malhotra contended before a bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya.

"Our Constitution is different and our moral and social values are also different from other countries, so we cannot follow them," the ASG said, adding that societal disapproval of gay sex is strong enough reason to criminalise it.

Indian society disapproves of homosexuality and law cannot run separately from the society, he contended while opposing the Delhi High Court's order which had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing a maximum punishable of life imprisonment.

The apex court had also asked the anti-gay rights groups to "broaden the canvas" while opposing the high court's order of decriminalising gay sex and not limit their arguments to only carnal intercourse, since the final verdict on the issue would have wider implications.

The apex court had also asked about the number of cases filed against gay people for indulging in such acts in the country.

Earlier, the bench had said that homosexuality should be seen in the context of changing society as many things which were earlier unacceptable have become acceptable with passage of time. The bench had referred to the recent phenomena of live-in relationship, single parent and surrogacy.

The apex court is hearing petitions filed by anti-gay rights activists and also by political, social and religious organisations who have opposed the high court verdict decriminalising homosexual behaviour.

On February 7, 2011 the bench had refused to implead the armed forces in the case.

The high court judgement had sparked a controversy and several political, social and religious outfits have asked the apex court to give the final verdict on the issue.

Senior BJP leader B P Singhal, who had opposed in the high court legalisation of gay sex, has challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court, saying such acts are illegal, immoral and against ethos of Indian culture.

Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance have also challenged the high court's order.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict in the apex court.

People and organisations from different fields have come out in support of or against the path-breaking verdict of the High Court which had sparked a controversy.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict in the top court.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2011 made a controversial remark on the subject. He said, ""The disease of 'Men having Sex with Men' (MSM), which was found more in the developed world, has now unfortunately come to our country and there is a substantial number of such people in India."

Even yoga guru Ramdev has spoken out openly against homosexuality. "In our country, in the Vedas, in the Upnishada, in the Manusmriti, there is not even a single mention of homsexuality. I have read the Shastras myself, homosexuality has always been looked at as a dirty thing, and has not been approved," Ramdev had said.

With Additional Inputs from PTI

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