//Gujarat gays protest law against them

Gujarat gays protest law against them

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Ahmedabad – Gay activists Friday protested against a law that considers homosexual activity a criminal act.

Gay rights activist Manvendrasinh Gohil asked for changes in section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that looks upon homosexual acts as a crime.

‘We want legalising of male having sex with male. The stigma attached to it needs to be removed,’ he told reporters here.

Gohil has founded the Lakshya Trust with others to share the concerns of the gay population. Currently, the group claims to be in contact with more than 10,000 likeminded people in central and south Gujarat, mainly in the cities of Vadodara and Surat.

Sylvester, another activist from Vadodara, said the homosexual activist is a post-HIV phenomenon.

‘It’s difficult for people to accept gays when our society cannot accept HIV-AIDS. At this point of time, we can only think of decriminalisation of the act while legalisation will be a luxury,’ he said.

Lawyer Apurva Dave said, ‘Those (the British) who formed the law have changed it in their land in 1967, and we are carrying the burden of their legacy.’

The AIDS prevalence rate among the gay population is 4.8 percent in Vadodara, 15 percent in Surat and 12 percent in Rajkot. The prevalence rate otherwise in 2005 was below four percent in Gujarat.