Ghulam Nabi Azad

India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, has come under fire for calling homosexuality a “disease” and “unnatural” at an HIV and AIDS conference.

Azad also reiterated the very common and dangerous belief by many in developing countries that homosexuality is somehow “imported” from industrialised Western nations.

“[Homosexuality] 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”, he said on Monday.

“Even though it is unnatural, it exists in our country and is now fast spreading, making it tough to detect it,” Azad added.

The United Nations special rapporteur on health, Anand Grover, told the Hindustan Times newspaper that, “It’s unfortunate, regrettable and totally unacceptable that a minister of his stature… is still insensitive to a vulnerable groups such as MSM [men who have sex with men].”

Homosexuality was only legalised in India in 2009 when the New Delhi High Court struck down the 148-year-old British colonial law prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

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