12/11/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Supreme Court rules homosexuality is a crime. Archbishop of Mumbai: Gays are not criminals

by Nirmala Carvalho
The highest Indian court has overturned a 2009 judgment of the High Court of Mumbai , which had decriminalized homosexual acts. LGBT associations complain and accuse the Islamic and Christian religious organizations of lobbying to reinstate the ban. Card. Oswald Gracias, "No to gay marriage, but the Christian community is against any form of discrimination. Homosexuals have the same dignity as any other human being."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Supreme Court of India has restored the law banning homosexuality as a "crime against nature". The nation's highest court has overturned a decision taken by the High Court of Delhi in 2009, which had decriminalized homosexual acts. The immediate reaction from gay rights activists was to lay the blame at the door of Islamic, Christian and Hindu religious associations accusing them of having lobbied to reintroduce the norm. However, speaking to AsiaNews Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Episcopal Conference of India, said that " the Catholic Church has never been opposed to the decriminalization of homosexuality, because we have never considered gay people criminals."

On 2 July 2009, the Delhi High Court had repudiated sect. 377 (unnatural offenses) of the Indian Penal Code - a law dating back to the British colonial period - by establishing that sexual relations in private between two consenting adults was not a criminal offense. Until then, two homosexuals could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, or to life imprisonment in cases deemed particularly serious.

The issue was reopened by BP Singhal, senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Hindu ultra-nationalist party), which has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the verdict, stating that "such acts are illegal, immoral and contrary to the ethos of the culture Indian".

"As Christians - reaffirms Card. Gracias to AsiaNews - we express our full respect for homosexuals. The Catholic Church is opposed to the legalization of gay marriage, but teaches that homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse."

 

 

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