Govt plays safe on gay sex issue, leaves it to SC

Last Updated: Friday, September 18, 2009 - 00:22

New Delhi: Playing safe on the
controversial gay sex issue, the government on Thursday left it to
the Supreme Court to decide on "correctness" of the Delhi High
Court order which decriminalised homosexuality between two
consenting adults.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, considered the report of the three-member Group of
Ministers formed on the issue and after a thorough discussion,
decided that Attorney General G Vahanvati will "assist" the
Supreme Court on it.

"The cabinet decided to ask the Attorney General to
assist the Supreme Court in every way desired by it in
arriving at an opinion on the correctness of the judgement of
the High Court," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika
Soni told reporters.

She refused to say anything more despite being pressed
to give details, maintaining that she was not authorised to
"explain" further as the matter related to the cabinet meet.

She merely said the Supreme Court can decide if the
High Court was "right or not" in decriminalising gay sex.

The cabinet decided against taking any stand on the
sensitive issue to avoid getting caught in any controversy, a
minister said explaining why it was left to the apex court
to take a view.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Law Minister Veerappa Moily
and Home Minister P Chidambaram were among those who contended
that the government need not challenge the High Court order as
some private parties have already done so.

It was pointed out that since the High Court had not
struck down Section 377 of IPC on sexual relations and had
only interpreted it, the matter should be left to the Supreme
Court to decide.

A minister said the Supreme Court was the proper
authority to interpret the High Court`s judgement and the
government should not get involved in that. In the process,
the AG could assist.

"There was a thorough discussion and at the end, there
was unanimity that the matter should be left to the Supreme
Court to decide," said a minister who attended the meeting.

The High Court, in an order on July 7, had declared as
legal sex between consenting gay partners, which was earlier
considered a criminal act under Section 377 of the IPC.

Some religious groups have opposed it, with a Christian
body, a disciple of Yoga guru Ramdev and Delhi Commission for
Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) approaching the Supreme
Court which sought the government`s response by October one.

The Supreme Court had earlier refused to stay the High
Court order, saying it would await the government`s response
on the issue.

In view of the sensitive nature of the issue, the
government had set up a Group of Ministers comprising Home
Minister P Chidambaram, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and
Law Minister Veerappa Moily to formulate a view on it.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, September 18, 2009 - 00:22

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