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Rare unity: Religious leaders come out in support of Section 377

Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 7:59am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

As the Supreme Court upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal Code on Wednesday criminalising homosexuality, what emerged is the univocal unity of religious leaders in expressing their homophobic attitude. Usually divisive and almost always seen tearing down each other’s religious beliefs, leaders across sections came forward in decrying homosexuality and expressing their solidarity with the judgment.

The first to express his happiness over the judgment was Baba Ramdev who, welcoming the decision, “guaranteed” a gathering of mediapersons that he would “cure homosexuality”. He also stated that homosexuality is “not genetic; it’s just bad addiction”. Playing out to the gallery, he finally prayed that the journalists gathered there do not “turn homosexuals”.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad vice-president Om Prakash Singhal said, “This is a right decision, we welcome it. Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature and against science. We are regressing, going back to when we were almost like animals. The SC had protected our culture.”

Singhal further went to dismiss HIV/AIDS concerns within the LGBT community. “It is understood that when you try to suppress one anomaly, there will be a break-out of a few more.”

Maulana Madni of the Jamiat Ulema echoed the same stringent homophobic beliefs. “Homosexuality is a crime according to scriptures and is unnatural. People cannot consider themselves to be exclusive of a society,” said Madni. Upholding the hetero-normative idea of a family, he further said, “In a society, a family is made up of a man and a woman, not a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. If these same sex couples adopt children, the child will grow up with a skewed verison of a family. Society will disintegrate. If we are to look at countries in the West who have allowed same-sex marriages, you will find the mental tensions they suffer from.”

Rabbi Ezekiel Issac Malekar, honorary secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagogue, too upheld the judgment. “In Judaism, our scriptures do not permit homosexuality. You will also have to take into consideration the demographics of our country and its multi-religious construct. We cannot simply emulate the West. Many countries have legalised euthanasia, but that does not mean we should too. What is foremost is the Indian culture,” said the rabbi.

Reverand Paul Swarup of the Cathedral Church of the Redemption in Delhi was less forthright, yet felt that homosexuality is not natural. “Spiritually, human sexual relations are identified as those shared by a man and a woman. The Supreme Court’s view is an endorsement of our scriptures.”

The Apostolic Churches Alliance and Utkal Christian Council, which had challenged the 2009 Delhi HC verdict, quashed HIV/AIDS concerns, decrying the “flimsy nature of this unfounded apprehension”.

“The High Court chose to discard morality as a source of law ignoring the fact that the test of reasonableness included notions of morality and ethics”, read a release issued by the lawyers of the Council

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