Swamy, Jaitley spar on gay sex – Tharoor brings in bill for LGBT rights

Swamy, Jaitley spar on gay sex - Tharoor brings in bill for LGBT rights
Swamy, Jaitley spar on gay sex - Tharoor brings in bill for LGBT rights

New Delhi, Nov 30

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]fter Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s advocacy for gay rights and its endorsement by most of the political parties, senior BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy has said that Jaitley’s view many not reflect the party’s stand on the matter and called for a debate on the matter in the BJP’s national executive.

On a day when the war between Jaitley and Swamy came out in the open, Congress Lok Sabha member Shahsi Tharoor is set to bring a private member bill in the House to amend the law to decriminalize gay sex. Tharoor’s move would force the BJP to end its ambiguity on the issue of gay rights, which has been an anathema to the larger Sangh Parivar.

With most parties likely to back Tharoor, gay sex could soon become legal in the country if Jaitley’s view is backed by the Government. In the past, several senior BJP leaders including Home minister Rajnath Singh and functionaries of the Sangh Parivar strongly opposed the move to decriminalize gay sex.

In a series of tweets, Swamy, a known Jaitley baiter, indicated that Jaitley might be echoing his personal view on the matter and the party had not yet taken any stand on the issue.

Dr. Swamy's tweets on homosexuality

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]peaking at the Times LitFest on Saturday, Jaitley and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram felt that the Supreme Court should not have reversed the Delhi high court order de-criminalizing consensual sex among gay adults. In 2009, the HC had declared as “unconstitutional” Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalizes sex between adult homosexual men.

“The SC’s view was not in sync with the jurisprudential development on gay rights world over,” Jaitley said, adding,”The 2013 judgment criminalizing gay sex was a reflection of the society’s archaic view. The court’s approach towards such issues should change with changing times.”

“The court was not dealing with any personal law and was on the issue of order of nature and the Delhi high court has held that it was not an offence. The SC took a very conservative approach on the issue and the judgment needs to be reconsidered,” he said, adding, “Fifty years ago, such an order could have been understandable but not in modern times.”

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he SC has criminalized gay sex after the UPA government opposed the High court judgment decriminalizing gay sex. Later, under pressure from LGBT activists, the UPA government changed its stance and asked the Court to decide the issue.
While criminalizing the gay sex, the SC expected the political class to take a call on the issue, saying the Government was free to amend the law by scrapping or reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

The political class has rallied around Jaitley with Congress, AAP and the Left declaring that they would stand by the Centre if it moved to repeal the controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

“BJP, RSS and VHP in separate statements had supported the Supreme Court verdict and pleaded for criminalization to be sustained saying the LGBT community was a danger and anathema to our culture. BJP must now answer whether they agree with Jaitley and have changed their stance or will they reject Jaitley’s statement as a misconceived aberration,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala added.

In its manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had said it would “enact a law to ensure that consensual sexual relations between adults of the same-sex are not criminalized”.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]acking gay sex, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “Let Jaitley convince his own party. The CPM was the first and only political party to support decriminalizing Section 377. Taking jibe at jaitley, he said the BJP must evolve consensus within before lecturing on Section 377.”

The AAP-led Kejriwal government is also in favour of decrimanlsing gay sex. With political consensus emerging over the issue, LGBT community could hope to celebrate the dawn of new freedom in the coming days.

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