Sunday, 12 January 2014

A Legal Update: Let's talk about sexual health?

The criminalization of same-sex relations is putting the sexual health of millions at risk




25 % Indian through my grandfather,
100% against the criminalization of homosexuality in India.


I had dinner with an Indian lawyer friend and her husband earlier this weekend and we got talking about last week's Opening Lines post, 2014's Homophobic Hangover. She gave me a much appreciated legal perspective on section 377 and reminded me of a consequence of India's criminalization of homosexuality that should have been spoken about in last week's post.

This friend worked in New Delhi as a legal clerk on the more right wing arguments for the criminalization of homosexuality a few years ago and was as shocked as everyone else when the legislation was passed on the 15th December, 2013. When she was working on the issue, the New Delhi based NGO, Naz, came to the New Delhi High Court to raise the issue that criminalizing homosexuality made it hard for them to approach and work with homosexual people affected by HIV/AIDS. They helped to bring about the "reading down" of the law in 2009, excluding consensual sexual acts between consenting adults. You can read more about Naz's work with HIV/AIDS in India here.

With same-sex consensual sexual acts now criminalized, health professionals will find it very difficult to speak to homosexual patients about their sexual activity. By admitting to having same-sex relations, those people could be facing up to 10 years in prison. How can sexually transmitted diseases be treated and/or prevented with such a law in place? Let's not forget that India has a population of 1.24 billion people.

As NGO Naz write in their mission statement, sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate between genders, castes, classes, nationalities. They certainly do not take someone's sexual disposition into account. 

Here is a map of the world showing which countries criminalize homosexuality, to varying degrees:



Thanks to the Washington Post for putting together this map.


Sexual health is incredibly important, and the more we talk about it the better. 

The same applies to the 65,000 + parents and teachers petitioning against an initiative to introduce a program on sexual diversity in schools in southern GermanyEducation is one of the greatest tools we have to increase awareness on sexual health in young people. Denying, dismissing and refusing to accept homosexuality is endangering lives

If my last post got you thinking, talking, reading around this subject, don't stop. 

Thanks for visiting.




Many thanks to reader Ula Bieganska for sending over these links in response to the big grey stretch of Russia on the Washington Post's map above, Russia's Anti-Gay Law Spelled Out In Plain English, and The Guardian's article on the rise of homophobic violence in Russia.

Please feel free to comment below if you too can add anything to this post.


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