CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 September 2018

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Indian Church unhappy with same-sex ruling

NEW DELHI (UCAN): India’s Supreme Court struck down a section of the Indian Penal Code that said homosexual acts in public or private were a crime punishable with a jail term of up to 10 years on September 6.
 
In a landmark judgment, the court ruled that homosexual acts between consenting adults are no longer a crime, saying that the colonial-era law was irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary, though sexual activity with animals and non-adults remain punishable offenses.
 
A statement issued by Father Stephen Fernandes, secretary of the  justice, peace and development office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said, “What is legal is not equal to moral acceptability,” the statement said.
 
It said the Catholic Church and others hold that same-sex behavior is morally unacceptable because “it violates the purpose of human sexuality, which is procreation ... this is the moral stand of the Catholic Church.”
 
However, it stressed that the Church, “respects the dignity of homosexuals as persons and human rights flowing from human dignity and personhood, just as the Church stands for the same for all without exclusion or discrimination.”
 
Bishop Joshuah Ignathios Kizhakkeveettil of the Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Mavelikara, conference vice president, said the “Catholic Church in India neither promotes nor propagates homosexuality. It is always for men and women and a happy family.”
 
Hindu and Muslim religious leaders were also critical of the court’s verdict.
 
Hindu spiritual guru Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj. said that same-sex relationships do not go with the meaning of creation. 
 
“God has created men and women for a purpose ... but some people think differently now, which is not morally acceptable,” he said.
 
Muhammad Arif, chairman of the Centre for Harmony and Peace in Uttar Pradesh state, said homosexuality and gay culture “are all Westernised, which is correct for some people, but I don’t think our society is ready to take it at this moment.”
 
James Valiath, programme co-coordinator at the Naz Foundation, which works on HIV/AIDS and health care issues and one of the petitioners in the case, welcomed the decision as good news for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
 
“I can’t express my happiness and joy because our organisation has been fighting this case for the last 17 years,” he said. 
 
“Now LGBT people can live peacefully in society with legal acceptance,” Vailath said.

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