A Church official in New Delhi has spoken out against the refusal of India's Supreme Court to review its earlier verdict criminalizing gay sex in the country.
The two-member bench yesterday rejected the
review petition filed by the federal government and the Naz Foundation
seeking a stay on the court’s December judgment making gay sex an
offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The Supreme Court had
set aside a 2009 Delhi High Court order decriminalizing gay sex.
church is against making gay sex a criminal act. These people are human
beings and have some rights and entitlements. They should not be barred
from any act and tagged as criminals,” Father Charles Irudayam,
secretary of the Indian bishops’ justice, peace and development, told
The priest said "it is our duty to show pastoral care for such people."
the court's December ruling, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai and
president of the Indian bishops’ conference, said that the church has
"never considered gay people criminals."
"As Christians, we
express our full respect for homosexuals. The Catholic Church is opposed
to the legalization of gay marriage, but teaches that homosexuals have
the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust
discrimination, harassment or abuse," Cardinal Gracias said.
Gautam Bhan, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community member, said the court decision was disappointing.
is a very disheartened step. It has overlooked the ample evidence,
including Section 377, provided by the petitioners regarding our rights
being violated in the country,” Bhan told ucanews.com.
377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality or “unnatural”
sex irrespective of the consent of the people involved.
that the LGBT community had received unprecedented support and
acceptance from other Indians. The court has "misread the people’s
mood," he said.
Terming it as a regressive order, Anjali Gopalan,
founder and executive director of the Naz Foundation, a New Delhi-based
NGO working on HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues, told ucanews.com they
will appeal the Supreme Court’s latest decision.
order, hundreds of LGBT members participated in a candle-light march in
New Delhi yesterday and vowed to continue their fight for equal rights.
Gopalan vowed to continue protesting and generating awareness about the issue.