Politicians squabble as LGBT Indians demand freedom

Sunday's Delhi Pride 2015 (Pic: Akhil Kumar / Facebook)

Sunday’s Delhi Pride 2015 (Pic: Akhil Kumar / Facebook)

As hundreds held a Pride march and celebration in Delhi, a government minister and the leader of his party have squabbled about India’s ban on gay sex.

Members of the LGBT community and their friends and family took to the capital city’s streets on Sunday to call for equality and freedom on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among the organisers’ demands is the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which makes it illegal to be gay and carries penalties including life imprisonment.

The law was struck down in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, but reinstated in December 2013 by the Supreme Court of India.

The day before Pride, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed his support for the LGBT community, reported The Times of India.

Speaking at the Times LitFest on Saturday, Jaitley said the Supreme Court’s verdict banning gay sex “is not in accordance with evolving legal jurisprudence and court needs to reconsider it.”

His views were, however, not supported by his Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leader, Subramanian Swamy, who tweeted in response that homosexuality is “a genetic flaw celebrated.”

He also claimed, quite incorrectly, that homosexuality is “curable by stem cell medical advance.”

Pic: Ali Faraz‎ / facebook

Pic: Ali Faraz‎ / Facebook

Swamy later tweeted that Jaitely “should ask for the BJP National Executive [to] meet and take a vote of the party on his pro-homosexual statement, instead berating the SC (Supreme Court).”

Earlier this year, the country’s Home Affairs Ministry revealed that almost 600 people had been arrested under the anti-gay law in 2014. The real numbers are probably higher as some states did not submit any or all their figures to the ministry.

In addition to its criminalisation under the law, homosexuality is also a social taboo. In April, Mr Gay India was forced to drop out of the 2015 Mr Gay World contest after he and his family received threats from the community.

Shortly after, 23-year-old television actress Disha Ganguly committed suicide, reportedly because her family refused to accept her relationship with another woman.

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