The overwhelming majority of Indians welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of India that on Wednesday returned to the Criminal Code an article considering homosexuality an "unnatural" crime. The chief guru of the country offered "homosexual brothers and sisters" to treat this bad habit by yoga."
Provisions prohibiting sodomy were included in the Indian legislation in 1860 by the British colonialists. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code defined a homosexual affair as a sexual intercourse contrary to the natural order of things, and prescribed punishment by imprisonment of up to 10 years. However, in 2009 the Delhi High Court quashed it and thus legalized homosexuality in the country. Religious groups, particularly the followers of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, protested the verdict. They filed a joint complaint against the decriminalization of same-sex relationship considered by the country's Supreme Court. The claim was supported by Delhi Commission on children's rights protection.
Rallies in support of criminalization of homosexuality were attended by residents of many Indian cities, The Times of India reported. A rally in Ranchi was attended by the newspaper's correspondent. "I congratulate the Supreme Court on this decision, it is done for the welfare of India. This is a victory of the Indian values and systems," said Sanjay Kumar Azad, an activist of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, one of the most influential Hindu nationalist organizations. He said that this phenomenon was made trendy by those who go to the West and accept its values. He added that homosexuality and same-sex cohabitation should be banned because they pollute the minds of the Indian youth.
Welcoming the verdict, yoga guru Baba Ramdev invited all homosexual brothers and sisters to come to Patanjali Yogapeeth where they will be placed in separate rooms and where they will be practicing yoga in the morning and evening. Homosexuality is just a bad habit that is hard to get rid but nothing is impossible, he added. "According to the guru, homosexuality is the area of animal rights rather than human rights. "Today you're talking about the relationship between men with men and women with women. Tomorrow, you will add animals to these pairs. Moreover, gay rights are not a problem at all. What contribution did gays made in history? " asked the guru.
The decision was supported by the Catholic Church and Muslim leaders. "Homosexuality is not just unnatural, but is against the divine law, and it should not be encouraged. If the court declared it illegal, it is for the benefit of the mankind," said the parish priest of St. Mary's Cathedral, Father Ajay Lakra.
"Unnatural sex is against the tenets of Islam. Homosexuality and lesbianism is a crime under Islamic law, but some individuals and organizations have attempted to legalize unnatural sex, and they pollute society," said Aynul Haque Ansari, the mullah of the mosque Minar in Kendrapara. According to the Mullah, India stood against conspiracy of the U.S. and other Western countries that wanted to legalize homosexuality in the country to bring the Hindu nation into disrepute. While they did not succeed, it is too early to relax, and the government should go ahead and ban any speech or rallies supporting homosexuality in India. Stating that homosexuality is considered unnatural, even among animals, a Muslim scholar said that people should not fall below animals. According to him, homosexuality leads to an increase of such dangerous diseases like AIDS, quoted The New Indian Express.
Student organizations also supported the decision of the Supreme Court. "Homosexuality is killing the Indian tradition and should not be encouraged. Moreover, this is an unnatural activity, and if it is encouraged, the results can be disastrous. I hope people understand that this is an unnatural crime, and stop doing it," said the Secretary of a State organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Suman Kumar.
According to The Times of India, even ordinary citizens approve the decision and hope that homosexuality will never be legalized. "I do not know what is wrong with today's generation. Why should they promote unnatural practice? When I was young, I even had no idea what homosexuality was, and now we are talking about it everywhere. I think it is simply disgusting and those who practice homosexuality should be punished," said Mamta Gupta, a 45 -year-old housewife.
Meanwhile, the Western media characterized the decision as "the darkest day in the history of India," and cited the negative evaluation of Bollywood ministers and defenders from Amnesty International. Some local officials are outraged. Deputy Justice Minister Indira Jaising said that the return of criminal penalties for homosexuality reflects "a medieval mentality" of its members. She does not understand why the judicial authorities shifted the responsibility for reviewing its decision to the Parliament. The answer is simple. Delhi High Court had no right to cancel Article 377 as it is not within its competence. First the law needs to be changed, but it can only be done by legislators. The question of decriminalization of homosexuality may get to the Parliament, but in such a patriarchal country like India homosexuality is unlikely to be decriminalized again.