Section 377 IPC impeding AIDS control interventions - Ramadoss

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New Delhi, Aug 22 (UNI) Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss today said that his Ministry is lobbying with agencies concerned for removal of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, which prohibits gay and lesbian relations, as it is impeding the Government's AIDS control measures.

Speaking after inaugurating a photo exhibition on AIDS Awareness at Rajiv Chowk Station of Delhi Metro here, the Health Minister said India has a population group of 2.3 million which fall in the category of males having sex with males (MSM). About 10 per cent of which are highly vulnerable. In order to intervene in this crucial segment, access is needed and Section 377 makes it difficult. If the Section goes it will help a great deal in de-stigmatisation and improves access to the target group. Having a good judicial verdict in some on-going cases will have a positive effect on our efforts, he said.

According to Dr Ramadoss, after 18 years, India's AIDS control Programme has started showing results. Incidence of AIDS cases has started declining, however, the Ministry is keeping the efforts on and expanding the AIDS Control measure to new areas.

Praising the efforts of Government, private and civil society organisations, Dr Ramadoss said the health sector in India has two major success stories in National Rural Health Mission and National AIDS Control Programme. 'It is time that the world started talking about these successes' he said.

Dr Ramadoss inaugurated a photo exhibition by the Photographer Prashant Panjiar illustrating the Chapters of a Book 'AIDS Sutra' which is a collection of 16 real life stories by some of India's most well known writers. The anthology has contributions from writers like Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Vikram Seth, Sunil Ganguly, Mukul Kesavan, C.S. Lakshmi and Amit Chaudhury. Amartya Sen has given the foreword for the Book. Dr Ramadoss also released the Book formally.

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