PM asks Patil, Ramadoss to resolve gay issue

October 16th, 2008 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss to sit together to resolve the controversy over removing a penal provision against homosexuality.The matter was taken up in the cabinet meeting Thursday where the prime minister asked the two ministers to resolve the matter, which is being heard in the Delhi High Court.

“The prime minister has directed the two ministers to sit together and discuss the matter and sort out their differences,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after a cabinet meeting presided over by the prime minister.

He said the cabinet had deferred a decision on the matter. “Whatever the court decides, we will agree,” Sibal added.

The issue has been mired in controversy ever since a public suit was filed in 2001 challenging the legality of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which bans sexual relations among people of the same gender and considers it “unnatural”.

The issue came up in the cabinet a day after the Delhi High Court pulled up the government for relying on religious texts to justify the prohibition of sex among people of the same gender. The court asked the government to come up with scientific reports to validate their contentions.

Ramadoss has been in favour of legalising homosexuality as a step in the war against HIV/AIDS as the gay population is considered to be one of the vulnerable sections to get infected with the dreaded condition.

The home ministry has been opposing this on the ground that homosexuality is a “criminal offence” and removing the penal clause would “disturb the law and order situation and create unnecessary problems in society”.

After the home ministry told the court it should ignore Ramadoss’s views, the health minister had said he would take up the matter with the prime minister.

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