New Delhi: Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad
today described homosexuality as a "disease" and regretted
that despite being "unnatural", it now afflicts a substantial
number of people in India.
"The disease of `Men having Sex with Men` (MSM), which
was found more in the developed world, has now unfortunately
come to our country and there is a substantial number of such
people in India", Azad said speaking at a convention on
HIV/AIDS at Vigyan Bhawan here.
The minister said, "Even though it (homosexuality among
men) is unnatural, it exists in our country and is now fast
spreading, making it tough for its detection".
"With relationships changing, men are having sex with
men now. Though it is easy to find women sex workers and
educate them on sex, it is a challenge to find MSMs".
Azad`s comments, which come in the wake of growing
demand to tackle HIV/AIDS, is likely to raise many an eyebrow
and generate a heated debate. Activists in the country
favouring homosexuality have faught a long battle against the
stigma and discrimination associated with homosexuality.
Azad also called for making sex education more open in
the country, to help control the HIV epidemic. "We are lagging
behind in sex education as compared to the West and not
talking about sex has fuelled the epidemic."
He also called for increased efforts to promote sex
education, especially among high risk groups, besides
promoting condoms, treating sexually transmitted diseases and
launching information and communication programmes amongst
transgenders and sex workers to help control the disease.
The AIDs convention, organised by a forum of
parliamentarians, was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and some union
ministers and chief ministers, besides members of parliament
and legislative assemblies, Zila Parishad chairpersons and
mayors, apart from professionals working in the area.