July 25, 2009 2:07:04 am
A Panel of diverse voices debated the landmark High Court ruling de-criminalising homosexuality at the India International Centre in New Delhi.
Soli J Sorabjee,former Attorney-General of India,moderated the discussion by asking the panellists to keep religion out and criticise the judgment on legal and medical grounds.
Rebutting the argument that homosexuality was an import from the West,he said,Countries like Nepal and Fiji have decriminalised homosexuality.
Shohini Ghosh,reader at Jamia Millia Islamias Mass Communication Research Centre,said,It is a momentous judgment as sexual rights are being used to lay claims on citizenship. It has reconfigured the notion of harm,and placed constitutional morality over public morality.
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Father Dominic Emmanuel,spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese,cited examples from the Bible to make the case that homosexuality is unnatural. He was,however,against discrimination against homosexuals. The Church has no problem with the striking down of Section 377. We condemn any malice against the community through speech or violence. They must be treated with respect.
On a lighter note,Ashok Row Kavi,member of UNAIDS,said,I must congratulate the LGBT community for bringing all religions together for once in the unity they have shown in attacking the judgment.
Dismissing the notion that homosexuality threatened families,he said,This judgment has brought families together as we felt excluded earlier. The other important change is that it allows sexual minorities access to public health.
Shyam Divan,counsel for Naz Foundation during the case,said,Sexual orientation cannot be stigmatised. In matters of personal agency,society has to remain neutral.
Commenting on the ruling,he said,The judgment is extremely well-reasoned and constitutionally consistent.
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