Gay population is 25 lakh, 7% HIV infected: Govt to SC

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 22:11

New Delhi: India has an estimated 25 lakh
gay population and about seven per cent (1.75 lakh) of them
are HIV infected, Government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"The population of MSM was estimated to be 25 lakhs in
India," the governemnt said in its affidavit filed in the apex
court, citing figures of the National Aids Control programme.

The affidavit, filed by Ministry of health, said that it
is planning to bring 4 lakh high risk Men who have Sex with
Men (MSM) under its AIDS control programme and it has already
covered around 2 lakh.

It further said that estimated HIV prevalence among
Female Sex Workers is 4.60-4.94 percent, and among MSM it is
6.54 -7.23 percent and in case of lnjecting Drug Users it is
9.42-10.30 percent.

The governemnt affidavit was filed in compliance with the
Supreme Court`s direction seeking detailed information on the
number of homosexuals in the country and how many of them are
HIV infected.

The governemnt submitted that there has been an overall
reduction of HIV prevalence, HIV incidence (new infections) as
well as deaths due to AIDS-related causes because of its AIDS
control programme.

Earlier, gay rights activists came out in support of
decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour among consenting
adults in private saying that it would help in bringing them
in national mainstream.

Naz Foundation, an NGO, working for the welfare and
rehabilitation of HIV infected persons, submitted that
criminalising gay sex will lead to preventing homosexuals come
out in the open.

"This population is hidden in the society and they are
not available for getting proper health care facilities. There
is a greater chance of the transmission of disease among
them," advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the NGO, said.

A bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi then asked him to
place reports and studies done by experts to substantiate his
arguments.

In the last hearing on February 29, various social and
religious organisations had vehemently opposed
decriminalisation of gay sex saying that allowing such acts
would lead to a "horrendous" situation.

The Delhi High Court had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex
as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and
had ruled that sex between two consenting adults of same sex
in private would not be an offence.

Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex
a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 09:59

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