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India’s LGBT Community Rejoices at Health Minister’s Comments

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Homophobia is not an inherently held opinion; it’s learnt, bred and taught to people before they’ve wised up enough to know better or because there simply aren’t any forces to tell them otherwise.

Often, homophobia – or a general dismay for anything queer – is institutionalised and sanctioned, particularly by stifling, human rights defying laws. That’s especially the case in countries subject to colonialism in the past centuries as although the many European colonies upped and left long ago and gave (most) countries their independence back, they left behind homophobia and anti-gay laws. India is one such country but after recent comments by the country’s health minister their may just be hope for India’s LGBT community yet.

Speaking recently, India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters that “everybody has human rights. It is the job of the government to protect them,” when asked about his personal views on gay rights and whether or not gay sex should continue to be criminalised.

In India, Section 377 of IPC (which criminalises homosexuality) was almost repealed in 2009 but this has since been upheld and will be subject to petition, so understand, Vardhan’s comment have made serious waves. He joins fellow BJP party member Ram Madhav (the general secretary for the party) who recently stated that although he didn’t advocated for consensual gay sex, it’s up for debate about whether it should be criminalised.

This is particularly hopeful for those hoping that Section 377 will be overturned once and for all but LGBT activists in the country will have somewhat of an uphill battle on their hands as BJP’s official stance is that they support Section 377 and think that it should remain in place. BJP’s party opinion is divided though, despite their official word so with the anti-gay epithet clearly losing some of its bite, this is a human rights campaign to watch.

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