New Delhi: Bollywood celebrities like Celina Jaitley and Onir, who are quite vocal about supporting India`s gay community, are shocked at Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad`s comment that men having sex with men (MSM) is a "disease" and "unnatural". They feel he is "regressive".
"Dear honourable Mr.Health Minister the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases in 1990. I`m shocked 2 hear that R health minister wld make a statement abt homosexuality calling it a `disease` .. W.H.O. does not think so sir!!" Celina, an active supporter of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in India, posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
On Monday at a conference on HIV/AIDS, Azad said: "The disease of MSM is unnatural and not good for India. We are not able to identify where it is happening as it is less reported also."
"It is a challenge because in cases of female sex workers we can identify the community and reach out to them. But in case of MSM, it is becoming difficult," he added.
Gay director Onir, who has touched upon homosexuality in films like "My Brother...Nikhil" and "I Am", feels Azad`s statement itself is "unnatural".
"Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad needs urgent counseling for his regressive statement. His `unnatural` stand is dangerous for healthy democracy. Its b/c (because) of ths regressive people the largest democracy in the world deprives the largest number of sexual minorities their democratic rights," he tweeted.
Even actress Shahana Goswami has spoken out against the minister`s stand.
"How can we have a health minister who says gay sex is a disease," she posted, and shared her personal views on gay sex.
"My take on gay sex is that it is a personal choice made by people that is no one else`s business and affects nothing else they do! Just as no one thinks you`re diseased to be with an older woman, or a much younger man, or someone physically challenged, this is NOT a disease! It`s a personal preference that may seem unusual to you because of your conditioning. But please don`t make factually incorrect statements about it," she added.
Actor-writer-producer Viveck Vaswani feels the minister needs some education.
"Gulam nabi azad is so deep in the closet that he has reached narnia!" he posted on Twitter.
Members of the gay community too have expressed displeasure at Azad`s ignorance.
Mohnish Malhotra, who has been long involved in the fight for gay rights and is one of the organisers of the annual gay pride, told reporters: "It`s shocking that such a comment was made by the country`s health minister. Even the UN passed a resolution saying that the LGBT community has equal rights as anyone else and cannot be discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation."
Ashok Row Kavi of Hamsafar Trust said: "Gay sex is not unnatural. It is a matter of one`s sexual orientation. If out of 100 children, five are left-handed, do you call them unnatural?"