Centre against scrapping Section 377

Calling it a ‘‘social vice’’ and ‘‘a reflection of a perverse mind’’, the Central government on Friday opposed scrapping of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code even as it came under fire from Delhi high court for its affidavit which contains divergent stands as stated by the home ministry and health ministry.A division bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar also wondered why the government’s affidavit protests against the scrapping of Section 377 when, in effect, the NGO limited its plea to toning down of the act to legalize private consensual sex between consenting adults. ‘‘We are concerned about homosexual acts among consenting adults in private here,’’ the bench reminded the government counsel, commenting on the affidavit. HC added: ‘‘Tell us what is the stand of the government on Section 377. Is it valid or not?’’ ‘‘Two affidavits have been filed by the two ministries (home and health). The two ministries are speaking in two voices. What is the stand of the government? Are you clear about the stand the central government is taking on the issue,’’ the bench demanded to know. The additional solicitor general P P Malhotra then said that the government stand is against the petition and he would argue for retention of the penal provisions against homosexual acts.‘‘Homosexuality is a social vice and the state has the power to contain it,’’ he contended. ‘‘It (decriminalizing homosexuality) may create breach of peace. If it is allowed then evils of AIDS and HIV would further spread and harm the people. It would lead to big health hazard. It would degrade moral values of the society,’’ the ASG maintained. He said it is crucial to hold such unnatural behaviour as a criminal offence and its deletion would lead to moral degradation. Countering the contentions of activists, the government said such behaviour is not a natural trait but a reflection of a perverse mind.

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