With Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi being the first member of the Government to oppose the landmark Delhi High Court ruling on Section 377 and indicate a divide within,the government is most likely to play for time to formulate its response,on July 20,to the appeal filed against the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Sources said the Centre would ask for time to study the order of High Court which ruled that sexual orientation has the same Constitutional guarantee of equality as sex and,therefore,homosexual relations between two consenting adults could not be held criminal.
Buying time also enables the government to evolve a consensus and deflect heat given that Parliament is in session and large sections of the political establishment are strongly opposed. While the key players in the debate,like Home Minister P Chidambaram and Law Minister M Veerappa Moily,are said to be in favour of decriminalizing consensual homosexuality,some of their colleagues are not so enthusiastic.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has not made his opinion clear but Ravi today claimed that homosexuality concerned only the elite and that he did not agree with the High Court judgment. Significantly,the Supreme Court was prompt in taking up the appeal and issuing notices,it did not stay the HC order.