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Indian animal rights and LGBTI activists clash over 377

Written by gaytourism

Protestors in Mumbai call for the end of the criminalization of homosexuality. | Photo: File

Animal rights activists in India have clashed with LGBTI activists over the possible repeal of Section 377.

While LGBTI activists argue that Section 377 marginalises gay people, animal rights groups say that the statute is one of the only laws in India to prohibit sexual abuse of animals, The Times of India reported.

The possible repeal of Section 377, which has been referred to as India’s ‘anti-gay law’, prohibits ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.’

The law essentially criminalises homosexuality in India, and a constitutional challenge is currently before India’s supreme court.

Animal rights activists were quick to point out that they were not trying to impede LGBTI rights, and argued that Section 377 needs to be modified rather than overturned.

Repeal or modify?

It was reported last week that eight men in the northern state of Haryana had been arrested for raping a pregnant goat, which later died of its injuries. The men were charged under Section 377 for unnatural offences, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Anjali Gopalan, executive director of the HIV/AIDS and sexual health NGO the Naz Foundation said: ‘Bestiality is an issue, and even I run an animal shelter. Whenever an animal is rescued the first thing we check is if it was sexually abused as it is highly common. We want the government to ensure that consenting adults are removed from the ambit of this section.

‘Apart from animals, even male-on-male rape is an issue which doesn’t have any other law other than Section 377. So, we do not want it scrapped. We want it modified.’

India’s supreme court has been ruling on the possible repeal of the law since July.

The law was introduced in 1861, and is a remnant of India’s rule under British colonial law.

Numerous activists and public figures have rallied in their support for repealing Section 377, which some have referred to as ‘archaic’.

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