Author Vikram Seth slams BJP for its "deafening silence" on gay sex verdict

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New Delhi:  Author Vikram Seth today tore into the BJP for what he called its "deafening silence" on the Supreme Court verdict this week that restored a 19th century ban on gay sex.

"550 million people have been criminalized. Why is there no word from leaders like Narendra Modi?"asked Mr Seth of the panelists at the session on "Governance: Towards cleaner politics in India," at the NDTV Solutions Summit.

The question was directed at the BJP member on the dais, Piyush Goyal, who was the only BJP leader to come out with his condemnation of the court verdict.

Mr Seth acknowledged it, as he asked, "The Congress has come out very strongly on Section 377, much to my surprise, saying the Supreme Court's judgment is wrong. The AAP has made its stand clear. Piyush Goyal and Derek O'Brien have made their personal views clear. Why has the BJP not taken a stand?"

Mr Goyal retorted that Narendra Modi "need not comment" on every Supreme Court verdict.
"Our leader Sushma Swaraj said the party will take a view once the government comes with a proposal before us. The devil lies in details, you can't just take a stand without consideration," the BJP MP tried to explain, adding, however, that he himself took a call on it as soon as the ruling was out.

Not appeased by this answer, Mr Seth plodded on, asking the BJP leader to reply specifically whether "the BJP has an issue" with a consensual relationship between two people of the same gender.

"Not at all," Mr Goyal replied.

At an earlier discussion on the Essence of India, eminent speakers like Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and software legend NR Narayana Murthy criticized the Supreme Court verdict.
"The criminalization of homosexuality is a violation of the protection of minority rights," said Amartya Sen.

Constitutional expert Fali Nariman had reservations about important judgements with far-reaching implications left to a bench of two judges. "It always has to be constitutional bench of five judges," he said.

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