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Thursday, July 02, 2009 05:18:19 PM, IANS

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Religious disquiet on gay law

New Delhi: Even as gay rights activists celebrated the Delhi High Court verdict Thursday that gay sex was not a crime, religious leaders criticised the rulling as an attempt "to impose Western culture on Indian society" and said homosexuality went against "the will of god".

 

"This is a sad day for civilised society. It (the ruling) is not acceptable. They are playing with the future generations and civilised society," said All India Muslim Personal Law Board's Kamal Farooqi.

 

"Scrapping such a law is not justified. This is an attempt to impose Western culture on Indian society," Maulana Abdul Khaleeq Madrasi, pro-vice chancellor of Darul Uloom - India's biggest Islamic seminary - told IANS on phone.

 

In a historic judgment, the Delhi High Court de-criminalised homosexuality by striking down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It said that any sex between consenting adults should be legalised.

 

A bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar said that if not amended, the section 377 would violate Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which states that every citizen has equal opportunity of life and is equal before law.

 

Section 377, a relic of the British Raj, relates to "unnatural offences" and says that "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal should be punished".

 

Religious heads were both shocked and angered by the judgement.

Gyani Gurbachan Singh, head priest of the Akal Takth - the highest temporal seat of the Sikh community - said: "We strongly oppose this high court decision. It is against the laws of the nature. We appeal to the Indian government to rethink the issue. We also appeal to the Sikh community to boycott this verdict as it is against the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib."

 

Ganesh Tripathi, a senior priest of Delhi Arya Samaj Mandir, said: "The Arya Samaj can never accept this. This cannot be applied to Hindu society or our beliefs."

 

"Homosexual acts go against nature. This (judgement) is wrong and just because a small section of society wanted this, the court has overlooked the majority's views," he added.

 

"We have no objection or opposition to de-criminalisation of homosexuality because we never considered them criminals.

However, we are also clear that we are against legalising it...because what they do is unnatural and against the design and will of God," said Father Dominic Emmanuel.

 

An outraged Shahi Imam Ahmad Bukhari of the Jama Masjid told IANS: "This is such a dirty issue. I have decided that I will not even speak about it because if I do, it will be an insult to me and our belief. The government cannot dare to make this legal - when they do, we will react and talk then."

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