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Times Of India – NACO and Sec 377 July 21, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in English, HIV, Section 377.
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Times Of India,New Delhi – Article Link

NEW DELHI: In a move seen as a significant boost for the gay rights movement
in India, a government body — the National Aids Control Organisation — has filed an affidavit in court supporting the demand to scrap Section 377 of IPC, which declares homosexuality an offence. Naco’s affidavit, submitted before the Delhi High Court, endorses the view of NAZ Foundation, an NGO, which has asked for the repeal of section 377. In the affidavit, Naco cites a survey it conducted which found that 8% of
the 25 lakh homosexual population in India are afflicted with HIV/AIDS as compared to 1% of the general population affected by the disease. Homosexuals are, therefore, highly vulnerable to the disease, it said.

“Section 377 adversely contributes to pushing the infection underground…and makes risky sexual practices go unnoticed and unaddressed,” Naco’s affidavit said.The organisation argued that because of the present law, homosexual groups were forced into “hidden spaces” and were vulnerable to harassment by the police and civil society at large. “The hidden nature of such groups leads to poor access to healthcare and safe sex information,” the affidavit said. Section 377, it added, had become an impediment to the success of various programmes launched to guide AIDS patients.

Naco’s affidavit was in response to a PIL filed by NAZ Foundation seeking the scrapping of section 377. The PIL had been earlier rejected by the Delhi High Court. The dismissal came after the Centre justified Section 377, saying homosexuality was not acceptable in Indian society. Subsequently, NAZ filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court, which asked the Delhi High Court to consider the matter afresh.

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