Outcry over homosexuality remarks

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India’s health minister has outraged activists by calling homosexuality a “disease” and “completely unnatural” during a conference on HIV/Aids.

Ghulam Nabi Azad told the conference it was unfortunate that homosexuality had come to India.

"Even through it [homosexuality] is unnatural, it exists in our country and is now fast spreading, making it tough to detect it," he said.

"With relationships changing, men are having sex with men now. Though it is easy to find women sex workers and educate them on sex, it is a challenge to identify men having sex with men."

The minister's comments echo a common refrain in the conservative country that homosexual sex is a Western import.

Gay sex was illegal in India until 2009 when the Delhi High Court struck down the law that made sex between people of the same gender punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

About 2.5 million Indians have HIV, making it the country with the largest number of people living with the disease in Asia. Experts say the marginalisation of gay people in India hinders the fight against HIV/Aids.

AP

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