UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a function in New Delhi on January 12, 2015 (Agence France-Presse photo)
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has accused India of fomenting intolerance with its ban on gay sex amid uproar over a Goa minister's plans for centres to "make homosexuals normal".
Speaking in New Delhi, the UN chief referred to India's colonial-era law banning gay sex and said he "staunchly opposed the criminalisation of homosexuality."
He said in a statement, "I am proud to stand for the equality of all people - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. I speak out because laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance."
The Supreme Court restored a ban on gay sex last year, ruling that the responsibility for changing the law, dating back to 1861, rested with lawmakers and not judges.
Gay sex had been effectively legalised in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that banning "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" was a violation of fundamental rights.
The UN chief's comments came on the same day that a minister of Goa's ruling BJP announced his plans to make homosexuals "normal" in the state.
Ramesh Tawadkar, Goa's sports and youth affairs minister, told reporters that he planned to set up centres on the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous.
"We will make them normal. We will have centres for them, like Alcoholic Anonymous centres," Mr Tawadkar said, adding that the state would "train them and give them medicines too".
The minister made the comments after releasing the state's policy on youth issues which listed lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders as a stigmatised group that needed attention.
His comments drew widespread criticism and ridicule from gay rights groups and social media with jeering remarks posted on Twitter.
"There has to be someone from the higher authorities... from the BJP who will have to speak up on this because when you are silent about someone making such an irresponsible statement, you are actually admitting it," Harish Iyer, a gay rights activist, told NDTV.