Congress supports individual rights; BJP skirts issue

Coming out in support of gay rights, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi have expressed their disappointment with Wednesday’s Supreme Court verdict that held homosexual acts between consenting adults illegal.

Echoing the view, a number of Union Ministers meanwhile said the government was considering all options to restore the 2009 Delhi High Court order on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that had held otherwise.

“The High Court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution,” Ms. Gandhi said in a statement. “This Constitution has given us a… legacy of liberalism and openness, that enjoin us to combat prejudice and discrimination of any kind.”

Mr. Rahul Gandhi said he agreed with the High Court’s view on decriminalising gay sex, stressing that his “personal view” was that it was a matter of “personal freedom” that should be left to the individuals concerned.

The Aam Aadmi Party, too, said the Supreme Court’s verdict violated human rights, went against the liberal values of the Constitution, and the spirit of the times.

But the principal Opposition, the BJP, remained silent on whether homosexuality should be decriminalised. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said that if the government wanted to amend Section 377, it should first draft a proposal and call an all-party meeting. The BJP would then examine the issue and make its stand known.

Earlier in the day, Law Minister Kapil Sibal said: “The Government is considering all options to restore the High Court verdict on [Section] 377. We must decriminalise adult consensual relationships.”

The Supreme Court should have applied “current social and moral values,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said.

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