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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

`Change laws to protect rights of sexual minorities'

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, OCT. 23. Speakers at a debate on sexual rights and legal reforms have demanded changes in existing laws, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, which they said have discriminated against the rights of sexual minorities.

Nation-wide campaign

The debate, held here on Saturday, is the first in the series of meetings being organised in the State as part of a nation-wide campaign for the rights of sexual minorities. The campaign is led by Sangama, a Bangalore-based organisation, Foundation for Integrated Research on Mental Health (FIRM) in the city and `Swam' of Chennai.

Ostracism

Sexual minorities, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals like the hijra-kothi communities, faced much discrimination and stigma owing to their sexual orientation and were denied even basic citizen rights, said Maamu, representing Sangama. Apart from society's ostracism, they had to put with rights violation by the police, the media and the legal and medical systems, she pointed out.

Dignity being denied

She said that the State was denying sexual minorities the right to live with dignity. Section 377 of the IPC was not only restrictive of the rights of sexual minorities, it was also being used to criminalise their sexual rights, she said.

B.R.P. Bhasker, media analyst who participated in the discussion, said that basic human rights was not just for the majority. External factors like religion, political beliefs or sexual orientation did not alter one's right to live with dignity, he said.

No political will

Many of the basic laws that binds society dates back to the colonial age and successive Governments have not had the political will to repeal them. South Africa, as soon as it gained freedom, repealed its police law that had been framed by the British, while India still follows the basic structure formulated by the British, Mr. Bhasker said.

Sexual minorities

Deepa Nair, a campaigner for the rights of sexual minorities, said that laws should be framed so that homosexual behaviour was not criminalised. Society's notions of what constitutes sexual rights or wrongs were violating the basic rights of sexual minorities — the rights that any citizen should have regardless of the choices that they make in their personal life, she said. J. Raghu, lawyer-activist, also spoke.

The campaign's focus is on the need to change laws that discriminate against the rights of sexual minorities.

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