Hindu American Foundation Disappointed by Indian Supreme Court Verdict on Homosexuality
Washington, D.C. (December 11, 2013) -- Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) announced their disappointment today with the Indian Supreme Court's decision to uphold Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual homosexual conduct. In 2009, the New Delhi High Court rejected Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a remnant code from the British Era, and decriminalized same-sex relationships. The Indian Supreme Court, known generally for expanding civil rights, chose to defer to the Indian Parliament to reform the provision.
"No law should interfere in a consensual relationship of two individuals behind closed doors," said Harsh Voruganti, Associate Director of Public Policy at HAF. "We had hoped that the Indian Supreme Court would have upheld the lower court's progressive decision."
Section 377, based on arcane, Victorian mores, does not reflect the understanding of many contemporary Hindu lay and spiritual leaders who emphasize the teachings of every individual's inherent divinity -- be they heterosexual or homosexual, Voruganti added. Adherents of other faiths have similarly expressed disagreement with the Supreme Court ruling.
"The essential core of Hindu teachings is that an individual's value is not based on his or her sexual orientation, but on one's ability to transcend the body, senses, and ego," said Swaminathan Venkataraman, HAF's Director of India Strategic Relations. "And unlike many interpretations of Abrahamic scripture, Hinduism does not provide a fundamental spiritual reason to reject or ostracize homosexuals," continued Venkataraman, also the primary author of the widely acclaimed article, Hinduism and Homosexuality, which appeared in Trikone magazine in 2009.
Hindu teachings about mutual respect and dignity have informed HAF's public policy positions, noted Voruganti. "HAF has repeatedly taken a stand in support of equal rights for LGBT individuals in the United States, from joining an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act to advocating for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. Senate."