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Centre in a fix over gay sex issue

July 19, 2009 18:01 IST
The Delhi High Court verdict legalising gay sex has put the government in a fix as it remains undecided about its stand in the Supreme Court, 10 days after a response was sought from it on the vexed issue.

"No affidavit has been filed in the court as yet. It has to be seen what happens in the court," Attorney General G E Vahanvati, who will appear in the matter, told PTI.

"You have to wait and watch what happens in the court tomorrow (on Monday)," he said.

While the Centre remained non-committal about its stand on the HC verdict which has been opposed by different sections of society, including religious leaders of all communities and a child rights body, gay rights activists have drawn up a detailed strategy to defend the verdict.

"We will file our response to the appeals after it is admitted by the apex court," said Shivangi Rai, the lawyer actively associated with the NGO Naz Foundation on whose Public Interest Litigation the High Court on July 2 had declared the penal provision (under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code) for gay sex among consenting adults in private as unconstitutional.

The apex court had issued notice to the Centre seeking its response on the petition filed by a Delhi astrologer challenging the High Court verdict.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, which will hear the matter on Monday, had said during the earlier hearing that "any interim order against the High Court verdict, if necessary, will be considered only after hearing the parties concerned."

Notices were also issued to Naz Foundation, the NGO and other respondents who were parties before the High Court.

Astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal has sought quashing of the July 2 High Court judgement legalising gay sex between consenting adults in private, which was earlier a criminal offence punishable with up to life imprisonment.

"If such abnormality is permitted, then tomorrow people might seek permission for having sex with animals," Kaushal had argued.

He had claimed that since the High Court verdict there had been seven gay marriages, raising several questions that could impact on the very institution and added, "We have to look at our own scriptures to seek guidance from and they are against such behaviour in our society."

Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily had said that a three-member ministerial group has been tasked with looking at all aspects of the verdict.

The petitioner contended that homosexual acts, by all standards, were "unnatural" and could not be permitted.

"No one can imagine the consequences of the unnatural acts. Even animals don't indulge in such activities," he said in his petition.

The High Court verdict, widely welcomed by gay activists, sparked off a controversy with several political leaders asking the government to appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

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