Jul 7, 2011
Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad gestures during a press conference in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, July 5, 2011. -- PHOTO: AP
NEW DELHI - THE Indian gay community has made great strides in gaining acceptance in recent years, but a minister's description of homosexuality as 'unnatural' this week shows that prejudices still run deep.
Almost two years to the day after a landmark Delhi High Court ruling decriminalised homosexuality, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad shocked gay rights activists on Tuesday with his remarks at an HIV/Aids conference.
Homosexuality was 'unnatural and not good for India' and 'a disease which has come from other countries", he was quoted as saying, though he later said he did not consider being gay a disease.
The condemnation from India's gay activists was quick and forthright, reflecting the growing confidence of a minority movement that is no longer scared of asserting its rights.
Other signs of the community's increasing visibility include the sale of same-sex Valentine's Day cards and gay magazines, as well as the Bollywood blockbuster Dostana, in which a mother welcomes her son's supposed boyfriend into her home.
The country's first gay pride store was launched in an upmarket suburb of Mumbai in December 2009. -- AFP