Saturday, July 11, 2009

(MY089) India gay sex ruling - protection, not acceptance

NEW DELHI (AFP) – For India's gay community, the joy that greeted this month's court ruling legalising gay sex is tempered by the fact that, although the law now accepts them, society still does not.

For all the celebrations and talk of an historic milestone, many believe it will take more than a court decision to change public attitudes toward homosexuality, which is largely taboo in India and considered by many to be a mental illness.

Although the Delhi High Court's verdict has served as a morale booster for men and women who lived in constant fear of being criminalised, they say it is unlikely to encourage those in the closet to come out.

"I don't think it will make a major impact," says Maya, 32, who runs a counselling centre for lesbians and people with gender identity issues.

"I'm sure some people who were afraid of the legal implications are more comfortable now, but there are still so many social issues.

"The major issues are how you're going to tell your family -- it has nothing to do with the law," she said.

Abhi's parents took him to a psychiatrist when he came out to them two years ago. They eventually came to terms with his sexual orientation, but the 22-year-old call centre employee believes it will take generations for India to tolerate, let alone embrace homosexuality, on a wider scale.

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