Fighting it out

KOLKATA, Dec. 2: After a long lull since the final hearing of a petition filed by the Naz Foundation in the Delhi High Court against Section 377 of IPC, on 2 July, Mr Aditya Bandopadhyay, a member of the Lawyers’ Collective HIV/AIDS unit that formulated the petition for the NGO, said hope still floats if the arguments are taken on scientific grounds. He was speaking at the seminar called ‘HIV, marginalised sexualities and Human rights 2008’ organised by MANAS Bangla at the Jadavpur University today.
Referring to the report submitted in 2007 by the nine-member Asian AIDS Commission, Mr Bandopadyay said that the study shows how AIDS is an epidemic of the vulnerable groups (sex workers, homosexuals and intravenous drug users) and direct intervention into the groups is necessary. The report also states that to combat the disease all these populations should be decriminalised.
It should be noted that when the report was released in India, PM Dr Manmohan Singh, health minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss had advocated the decriminalisation of homosexuality despite home ministry’s opposition. Significantly, gay men were the first one to have launched an organised programme to combat HIV AIDS, said Mr Anis Roychowdhury, director, MANAS Bangla. In the seminar, attended by officials of West Bengal State AIDS Prevention & Control Society, students, professors, various groups advocating the cause of the transgenders and transsexuals, and people from various walks of life, Kolkata based psychologist Mr Debashis Chatterjee said that homosexuality is normal and not a psychological disorder. He also busted various myths related to homosexuality. The seminar was followed by a panel discussion. Two films ~ Kinnor (a documentary on Launda Naach in Bihar ) and Rupantar ~ were also screened.

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