Indian Health Minister risks receding gains made in realizing rights of same sex individuals

Sadly when the landmark Delhi High Court judgement on same sex behaviour has just completed 2 years day before yesterday, Indian Health Minister's statement (as per the news of Press Trust of India (PTI) published in The Times of India, 4 July 2011), risks RECEDING the gains we have made in terms of human rights, tolerance and right to dignity of life in the past years for people with varied sexual orientations. As per the news, "Indian Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad described homosexuality as a "disease" and regretted that despite being "unnatural", it now afflicts a substantial number of people in India." As per this news,he added: "The disease of 'Men having Sex with Men' (MSM), which was found more in the developed world, has now unfortunately come to our country and there is a substantial number of such people in India."

According to the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), which functions under the leadership of Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, working with MSM is one of the high priority area for NACO. The NACO priority and thrust areas states that: "Sub-populations that have the highest risk of exposure to HIV will receive the highest priority in the intervention programmes. These would include sex workers, men-who-have-sex-with-men and injecting drug users."

Readers are welcome to post their opinions. What should we tell our Health Minister to ensure right to dignity, right to equality and right to health for all our citizens? What should citizens do to not let Mr Azad derail commendable gains India has made over the past years to ensure tolerance and dignity for people of varied sexual orientations?



  1. Siddhartha Vatsyayan, AAG, India07 July, 2011

    Calling same gender sex as a disease is ignoring the reality.

    One may prefer heterosexual activity for himself or herself, but cannot deny the right to different sexual orientation to others.

    I think calling MSM activity a sin (Not by the minister), or a disease is intolerance and unhealthy for the society and immediately puts the MSMs into a spot. That would make them go underground and may not even get tested for HIV periodically. That could lead to greater spread of HIV.

    I personally think giving them the dignity of acceptance in society would be the most sensible thing and lead to a healthier society.

    Siddhartha Vatsyayan
    Director, AAG
    New Delhi, India

  2. James Veliath, India07 July, 2011

    It is very unfortunate to see the Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad describing homosexuality as a "disease". I wish the Honourable Minister could have consulted some experts on the subject before making such irresponsible statement.

    James Veliath

  3. "I hope, for your sake, that you’re not gay. Life for homosexuals is tougher than it is for straight people. At the broadest level, that reality probably won’t change too much. In the same way that blacks testify that they still face discrimination both subtle and overt in daily life, gays cannot help but continue to carry the burden of differentness from a society heterosexual in majority. Certainly, however, contemporary social standards are much more tolerant of homosexuality than they have been in times past. In fact, homosexuality is now widely considered downright stylish. Gay rights advocates now seek for homosexuals to be granted government marriage licenses. That simple goal has induced a wide variety of very interesting responses. Let’s consider a few of them.

    The Catholic Church is not receptive to the idea of gay marriage. Pope John Paul II noted that Catholic lawmakers have a responsibility to resist the creation of gay marriage rights. This earned the Catholic Church some undue criticism. The Pope’s request was ultimately nothing more than a reminder for lawmakers to make their beliefs manifest in their work. It is quite reasonable to remind those who profess adherence to a creed to stick to it. Ultimately, though, his appeal will not likely have a significant impact on the outcome of the debate."