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Uninformed homosexuals, drug abuse spreading HIV November 27, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in Deccan Herald, English, Marginalization.
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http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/nov242006/national22464020061123.asp

`Uninformed homosexuals, drug abuse spreading HIV’ New Delhi, IANS:

Poor awareness among homosexuals and the increasing use of contaminated drug syringes are the main reasons for the rise in HIV infections in northeast India. Poor awareness among homosexuals and the increasing use of
contaminated drug syringes are the main reasons for the rise in HIV infections in northeast India and also in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, states a new study.

“Poor knowledge of HIV has been found among homosexual groups. In Bangalore, for example, three out of four men who have sex with men do not know how the virus is transmitted, and a large proportion of them
engage in unprotected sex,” says the UNAIDS/WHO 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update. India has about 5.2 million HIV-infected people, according to estimates by the state-run National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). The UN report, however, puts the number of infected people in India at 5.7 million, of which 5.2 million are adults in the age group of 15-49.

Based on analyses done by NACO and researchers, the report says there has been very little study on the role of sex between men, but recent data has thrown up some disturbing trends — HIV prevalence among homosexuals in Chennai is 6.8 percent and 9.6 percent in Mumbai. “In some areas, a substantial proportion of men who have sex with other men also sell sex,” the report says, citing a large study in Andhra Pradesh that says one in four men sold sex to other men.

“Using contaminated injecting drug equipment is the main risk factor for HIV infection in the northeast (especially in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland), and features increasingly in the epidemics of cities such as Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.” As in the case of risk through homosexuality, the global report points to continued courting of
danger by drug addicts using injectable substances.The HIV/AIDS Update points out that in Chennai, 31 percent of injecting drug users were found to be HIV-infected. Another study of men seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections in Mumbai clinics showed that among those patients who injected drugs, 12 per
cent were HIV-positive, 80 per cent of who had sex recently (in the past three months) paid for it and 27 per cent of whom had sex themselves sold it.

“Harm reduction programmes need to be expanded as a matter of urgency in those parts of India with serious drug injecting-related HIV epidemics. Failing that, there is a possibility that the combination of injecting drug use and paid sex could lead to larger HIV epidemics,” the global report warns. As of 2006, several needle exchange programmes are operating in the northeast region, West Bengal and Delhi. However, only one project using substitution therapy has been started in the state of Manipur. Taking a critical view of the interventions in India, the report states, “Currently, interventions among injecting drug users tend to be inconsistent, too small and
infrequent to yield demonstrable results.”

The global report says the extent and effectiveness of India’s efforts to increase safe sex practices will likely determine the scale and development of India’s HIV epidemic.


Note:

The article does not address the how and why of marginalization of groups which is the reason for a lack of awareness.A case of treating the symptom as a disease.

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WOMEN & THE LAW – An untenable provision November 27, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in English, Section 377, The Hindu.
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Date:18/11/2006 URL:
http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2006/11/18/stories/2006111800950200.htm

WOMEN & THE LAW – An untenable provision

With Section 377 still being in force in India, homosexuals and other sexual minorities are being subject to needless harassment and abuse Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has been in the news lately. This
is a provision which attempts to set normative stipulations of sexuality in a broad but powerful way. The section criminalises voluntary sexual intercourse between two adults, if such sexual intercourse is against “the order of nature”. The punishment for this “offence” is imprisonment for life or ten years with fine. This is a
good example of a law, which is capricious, unreliable and inherently capable of abuse. What is “the order of nature”? And by such yardstick, how extensive and subjective is the power in implementing this section?

This law was first passed in England in the 16th Century to criminalise homosexuality. It was adopted by the British for India,when the Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860. The basis for distinguishing homosexuality from heterosexuality was the fact that homosexuality does not procreate. In England, this law was repealed in 1967. However, with the law still being in force in India, homosexuals and other sexual minorities have been and are being subject to needless harassment and abuse under this law, simply on account of the fact that they are not heterosexuals. Already burdened by social stigma, homosexuals in India are further isolated by apprehensions and
actual police harassment.
Examples of harassment are aplenty. A gay man was given shock therapy to “cure” him of his sexuality. The National Human Rights Commission did not take up his complaint citing Section 377. There is a fundamental problem with Section 377. This provision, unlike other criminal provisions, does not seek to criminalise harmful
or abusive sexual conduct. On the contrary, volition in the sexual activity is the basis for its criminality. Section 377 ends up treating voluntary sexual activity similarly with abusive and forced sexual activity.
The need for this law has been justified on two main grounds: one, to enable policing of immoral sexual activity; and two, to criminalise paedophilia or child sexual abuse. These arguments are untenable. Are not sexuality and consensual sexual relationships by their very nature a personal matter, and morals an issue only where there is abuse or force or harm in such relationship? What then justifies State interference in matters of intimacy between two consenting adults? As far as paedophilia is concerned, the Section by its very language excludes sexual activity with a child, and cannot be the basis for policing child sexual abuse. Besides, an issue as serious as child
sexual abuse needs and deserves a more serious treatment in law, and not just puritanical language about it being against “the order of nature”.

Many countries have de-criminalised homosexuality, and do not attempt to fetter feelings of intimacy or companionship. Many countries recognise marriages and relationships between same-sex partners.In India, in 2000, the 172nd report of the Law Commission of India recommended the repeal of Section 377. But the Government did not act on this recommendation. There is an appeal pending before the Supreme
Court against an order of the Delhi High Court, which dismissed a petition that sought the deletion of this provision as violating the human rights of homosexuals in India.
More recently, several eminent persons in India have signed a letter seeking its repeal or removal from the law. It is important that we join voices for repeal of this reprehensible law at the earliest.

CHITRA NARAYAN

(c) Copyright 2000 – 2006 The Hindu

Readers Responses to the Hindu (contd) November 27, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in Biased/Homophobic, Homophobia, The Hindu.
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Date:14/11/2006
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/11/14/stories/2006111402481002.htm
Opinion – Letters to the Editor

On homosexuality

1.
According to Mohana Krishnaswamy “It is the major responsibility of society
to nurture what is desirable and discourage what is not. Homosexuals need
our sympathy and understanding but not our encouragement … ” (Letters,
Nov. 10). Society has no business to encourage or discourage any
relationship between two consenting adults. Also, why does she feel that a
homosexual requires her sympathy?

I am 23 years old with a job that pays well. I have a family that supports
me, I have friends — both straight and gay — and my colleagues respect me. I
am a law-abiding citizen leading a responsible life. Why should I become a
criminal just because someone who loves me is a man and not a woman? I do
not want some stranger’s sympathy; all I want is not to be prosecuted for
being what I am.

Rakesh Suvarna, Mumbai

2.
With little regard for medicine, human rights, and modern thinking, Dr.
Krishnaswamy continues to plod on her course of intransigence. She continues
to give herself the privilege of deciding who is `desirable’ in civil
society and who is not.

Balakrishnan Kameswaran, Kozhikode

3.
The Hindu deserves praise for its progressive outlook on such issues. As for
the reader who argues about homosexuality perpetuating victimisation
(Letters, Nov. 13), I think we should not conflate non-consensual and
abusive behaviour with sexual orientation.

If we were to equate child molestation, rape, and domestic violence
perpetrated by men with sexual orientation, we should have criminalised
heterosexuality a long time ago.

L. Ramakrishnan, Chennai

4.
I am immensely perturbed to note that Dr. Krishnaswamy’s views are being
attacked. By scientific reasoning alone, all kinds of human acts cannot be
permitted to flourish to the detriment of individual and social health.
Permissiveness has its limits. If transgressed, it will result in the loss
of natural equilibrium and end in an irreversible chaos.

B.R. Kumar, Chennai

Readers responses to the Hindu (contd) November 27, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in Biased/Homophobic, The Hindu.
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Date:13/11/2006 URL:
http://www.thehindu.com/2006/11/13/stories/2006111301930802.htm

Opinion – Letters to the Editor

Who decides?

I was disturbed on reading Mohana Krishnaswamy’s article “Drawing the
rights line” (Open Page, Oct. 29) on homosexuality and her response to
letters on the subject (Nov. 10) in which she has argued that “it is
the major responsibility of society to nurture what is desirable and
discourage what is not.” Who is to decide what is desirable for
society and what is not? Is there any evidence to suggest that
homosexuals are undesirable?

I am a homosexual and have done my MBA from a reputed IIM and am
working for a multinational company in Bangalore. I contribute to
society as much as I can through charity activities, fund-raising
drives, and educational drives. I have the same dreams as my
heterosexual counterparts. I pay the same amount in taxes and am a
responsible citizen like anyone else. Why does the doctor believe that
my sexual orientation is not desirable for society?

Sameer Gokhale,
Bangalore

I wish Dr. Krishnaswamy would throw some light on why she believes
homosexuality is undesirable. But before that, I would like to submit
that even if we decriminalise murder, there wouldn’t be murders taking
place left, right, and centre. Illegality is not the only thing that
prevents murders. And it certainly isn’t the only reason why every
Indian isn’t a homosexual.

Srikant Iyer,
Chennai

Homosexuality has as much to do with the spread of AIDS as bisexuality
or trans-sexuality or heterosexuality. It is the lack of adequate
precautions that leads to infection. The sexual orientation of the
affected person has nothing to do with the spread of diseases.

Homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, and trans-sexuality have
been part of human behaviour at least since the time of written
records. Therefore, the nature-versus-nurture debate, which is
apparently scientific, is not rigorous enough and is rather very
sterile.

The author seems to have ignored the great works of art and literature
inspired and produced by the brilliant minds of homosexual and
bisexual women and men. Despite being penalised and branded criminals,
these men and women have made our lives a lot more interesting.

Hari Nair,
Nunkini, Mexico

Homosexuality is socially acceptable in nearly all of urban Western
Europe, North America, and many primitive societies, while ritual
homosexuality is also socially acceptable in India. Modern medicine
considers homosexuality acceptable. When none is harmed, and some are
happier, its ethical unacceptability is not clear.

Dr. Krishnaswamy’s analogies to violent crimes are not helpful. One
analogy is to murder, a non-consensual violent act, where the state
has compelling interest to involve itself. The analogy about
Y-chromosomes and pardoning crimes is also irrelevant.
Decriminalisation is not the same thing as pardoning a crime, but
rather correction of a faulty penal code.
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Without the unstudied references to society, ethics, and medicine, we
must recognise that some have a feeling that they cannot understand
homosexuality but such views are personal. This recognition should
assuage Dr. Krishnaswamy’s fears. Decriminalisation will not make huge
numbers of young people homosexual. A great many young people, sharing
her lack of personal empathy, will not become homosexuals. It is
amusing that for the arbiters of desirability, one’s own pursuit of
happiness remains desirable but the other’s happiness can be
conveniently labelled “abnormal.”

Dhananjay M. Vaidya,
Assistant Professor of Medicine,
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions,
Baltimore, Maryland

The campaign to repeal Section 377 of the IPC camouflages the real
issue by referring to sexual orientation and human rights. The law is
an effort to control behaviour that amounts to exploitation of a
person. The argument of consent is spurious because such consent is
often obtained by psychological blackmail. If the Section is repealed,
there will be a spurt in the number of young boys being victimised.

Jille Begum,
Hyderabad

Anything happening within four walls with mutual consent is not a
crime. So, there should be no problem in repealing Section 377 of the
IPC. But at the same time, one has the right to express one’s views on
homosexuality. Everything that is not a crime need not necessarily be
normal. Homosexuality is certainly a deviant behaviour.

K. Ramasami,
Coimbatore

Sec. 377 and the dignity of Indian Homosexuals November 25, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in English, Section 377.
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From Economic and Political Weekly – Alok Gupta

link to the article.pdf

This paper seeks to determine the extent and manner in which the proscription of “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes criminals out of homosexuals. Section 377 is not merely a law about anal sex alone, but applies to homosexuality in general. The lack of a consentbased distinction in the offence has made homosexual sex synonymous to rape and equated homosexuality with sexual perversity. Section 377 is the biggest affront to the dignity and humanity of a substantial minority of Indian citizens. The decriminalisation of sodomy will contribute directly to restoring the dignity of homosexuals and allow the gay movement to emerge from the shadows.
–Alok Gupta–
18-11-2006    [SPECIAL ARTICLES]
Issue : VOL 41 No. 46 November 18 – November 24, 2006

Readers responses to the Hindu Article November 8, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in Biased/Homophobic, The Hindu.
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http://www.hindu.com/2006/11/02/stories/2006110202911002.htm

On homosexuality

 

 

The article “Drawing the rights line” (Open Page, Oct. 29) is unjustifiably judgmental. The statements “There are no homosexuals among any species of animals. Such practice is fundamentally against nature” take the cake. The Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo has just opened an exhibition of gay animals, “Against Nature?” The author may be shocked to learn that there are recorded instances of homosexuality in more than 1500 species — male Amazonian dolphins, female bottlenose dolphins (the second most intelligent species), flamingos, killer-whales among them.

Raghuram Ekambaram,
New Delhi

* * *

Not everything that is abnormal ought to be declared a crime. If it were so, even left-handedness can be declared a crime! The author’s claim that there are no homosexuals in any species of animals is factually incorrect. The webpage http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/2-14-2005-65757.asp has text from Guardian contradicting her claim.

Srikant Iyer,
Chennai

* * *

It is a matter of concern that we still have laws that discriminate against citizens on the basis of their sexual orientation. Not only do such laws violate an individual’s right to equality but also have a serious impact on public health.

It is not enough for a country to grow just economically as it develops. Broadmindedness, and a greater understanding and tolerance for people’s preferences are the attributes of a true democratic society.

Joshitha Vijayan,
New Delhi

* * *

The article is more dogmatic than analytical. The author fears that the removal of the stigma attached to MSM behaviour will endanger the next generation. This is because she and persons like her believe that there is `stigma’ attached to homosexuality. If homosexuality is accepted as natural behaviour, the question of stigma does not arise.

What makes the author think that such acceptance will lead to an increase in the number of people with such “undesirable” and “abnormal” behaviour? Does she think it will make a naturally heterosexual person homosexual?

N.K. Raghavendran,
Bangalore

Reader Responses to Hindu Article – Contd November 8, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in Biased/Homophobic, The Hindu.
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http://www.hindu.com/2006/11/03/stories/2006110303601001.htm

Appalling

I was appalled on reading the article “Drawing the rights line” (Open Page, Oct. 29). It smacked of personal bias towards homosexuals. It claimed that their orientation is “abnormal” without any scientific rationale. The American Psychological Association declared after thorough research that “homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or an emotional problem” (http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/answers.html). The WHO has also removed homosexuality from its list of illnesses.

Despite such documented proof, the author has asserted: “The stamp of criminality serves the purpose of declaring abnormality and thereby preventing young people from becoming victim to this abnormality.” Her `abnormality’ argument lacks substantiated proof. I hope The Hindu will help in removing social prejudices against sexual minorities.

Palanivel K. Raju,
Toledo, Ohio

* * *

The author’s comparison of human behaviour with that of animals is ridiculous. Animals mate only during the mating season. But humans don’t. Does it mean they are unnatural? Homosexuality is not induced. It is congenital like colour blindness. Homosexuals do not need sympathy but understanding. The author sits in judgment of issues using absurd arguments.

Gopalaraman Swaminathan,
Chennai

* * *

The article was nothing but a set of baseless, opinionated, and factually incorrect statements. MSMs do not need sympathy; they need the freedom and equality they rightfully deserve. The article contributed nothing useful to the debate but reflected the author’s prejudice.

Suriya Subramanian,
Chennai

* * *

Homosexuality will continue to be practised within four walls, stigma or no stigma. It is outlandish of homosexuals to demand the right to marry and to claim respect and acceptance. Where is the need for one to trumpet his or her sexual preferences in public? There are many laudable things that one can learn from the West but its approach to homosexuality is certainly not among them.

S. Rajagopalan,
San Ramon, California

Drawing the Rights Line – Biased Article November 1, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in Biased/Homophobic, English, The Hindu.
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http://www.hindu.com/op/2006/10/29/stories/2006102900461400.htm

Drawing the rights line  MOHANA KRISHNASWAMY

EMINENT PERSONALITIES have apparently taken up with the government the question of “decriminalising” homosexuality as reported in The Hindu dated September 27.
As a paramedical person by qualification, but professionally involved in the media now, I am somewhat disturbed by this development. In the history of AIDS, one of the widely accepted hypotheses in the early stages of reporting the outbreak of the AIDS virus was that homosexuality was a causative factor. Even today, whether that hypothesis is accepted or not, MSM (men having sex with men) are considered among the most high-risk groups susceptible to this infection.
In their anxiety to reach this group with their message of health, the social scientists involved in AIDS control have taken the view that the approach to the high-risk group should be non-judgmental giving emphasis to health and not ethics. From the perspectives of the social scientists this is indeed valid since you will not be able to communicate with the high-risk groups unless you gain their confidence.
This approach works with sex workers who are another high-risk group. However, this approach to MSM groups can result only in short term gains of communicating with them and educating them about the dangers of unsafe sexual behaviour, such as sex without condoms. The same attitude of putting the MSM groups at ease with a non-judgmental approach will however endanger the next generation since the stigma attached to MSM behaviour gets removed in this process. If decriminalisation is also implemented there is a real danger of the percentage of population with such undesirable, unhealthy, unnatural and abnormal behaviour increasing without control.
From a “human rights” perspective, activists take the view that it is the right of the individual to have consensual sex and that society has no business to interfere with the relationships between any two consenting adults.
The appeal to decriminalise is based on reports that the police commit excesses and ill-treat those who are arrested on charges of homosexual practice. The remedy to that should be to educate the police and make them more human, to sympathise with the conditions of abnormality in human behaviour. The solution is not to decriminalise. The stamp of criminality serves the purpose of declaring abnormality and thereby preventing young people from becoming victim to this abnormality.
While we can sympathise with people practising homosexuality, it is an altogether socially, ethically and medically unacceptable idea to treat them as normal. There are no homosexuals among any species of animals. Such practice is fundamentally against nature. With all our sympathy, we have to treat them as abnormal.
However eminent the group of supporters for decriminalisation may be, the government should not rush into such an action without taking public opinion into account. At the moment, there seems to be no voice to express an alternative opinion, just because those supporting decriminalisation include a Nobel laureate and a Booker Prize winner.
This is not merely a wake up call for the guardians of traditional morality and ethics. It is as much to provoke social scientists to evolve alternative strategies to reach out to the MSM group instead of decriminalising abnormal behaviour.

Thanks to Velu for bringing this piece to our attention..