India: AIDS Activists Take on Stigma by Challenging Sodomy Law

DECEMBER 2006 • Issue 2

Imposed in 1860 under British imperialism, India’s Section 377 law criminalizes gay sex —and by extension, condom outreach to men who have sex with men (MSMs) and transgender people.

In 2001, police in the city of Lucknow raided and sealed the offices of two NGOs working on HIV interventions with MSM, and arrested four workers. They were charged with conspiring to commit “unnatural sexual acts” under Section 377, were kept in captivity for more than 45 days and were refused bail on two occasions by the lower judiciary before being granted bail by the High Court. One of the arrested was granted bail only in January 2002– more than seven months after he was arrested.

The Naz Foundation, a New Delhi-based AIDS service and advocacy organization, is challenging Section 377 with a lawsuit that has gained influential support as it winds through the courts. As police continue to harass and extort HIV prevention workers, Section 377’s state-mandated homophobic stigma keeps prevention tools away from people at high risk for HIV.

Contact: Kim Mulji, Executive Director, Naz Foundation UK Office: london (at) nfi.net, +44 (0) 20 8563 0191

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Filed under gay and bisexual men, gender, imperialism/colonialism, India, Solidarity Project, stigma, trans and gender non-conforming, Uncategorized

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