India health min under fire for “gay disease” comments

NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Indian Health Minister Ghulam  Nabi Azad was trying to wriggle out of comments that  homosexuality was “unnatural and a foreign disease,” but critics  said yesterday his prejudices made him unfit to head the  ministry.

Azad’s comments on Monday at an HIV/AIDS conference drew  criticism in social media and in newspaper editorials but it  also exposed a long-held belief in India’s conservative society  that same-sex relationships were abhorrent.

Two years ago, India threw out a colonial-era law under  which homosexuality was a crime, moving faster than several  other countries where such laws remain in force. But Indian  society remains unaccepting, frowning upon same-sex partners.

“Unfortunately this disease has come to the world and to our  country where men have sex with men, which is unnatural and  should not happen,” Azad said in remarks that were shown on  television.

A day later as gay activists and health care professionals  condemned his comments, Azad said he had been misquoted and that  he had only said AIDS was a disease.  He, however, maintained  homosexuality was unnatural.

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