“We monitor the situation in India, where the Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling that found the ban on consensual homosexual activity unconstitutional,” Richard E Hoagland, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said April 16 in his address to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
“Despite progress in equal rights for LGBT persons around the world, our work is far from finished,” he said in a Press Trust of India report that appeared in siasat.com
Hoagland said with about 80 countries worldwide criminalizing same sex relations, LGBT persons around the world remain vulnerable to arbitrary arrest, harassment, discrimination, and violence.
Even today, five countries still define same-sex relations as a crime punishable by death, he noted.
The US is also closely following the situation in Uganda, where the newly enacted “anti-homosexuality act” not only provides for life imprisonment for homosexuality, but places significant restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly for all Ugandans.
The US official was praise for various other nations including those in South Asia which he described as countries that serve as beacons for the rest.
In South Asia, Nepal’s High Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex relations in 2007 and has extended legal recognition to third-gender citizens, he added.
“And in Pakistan, the Supreme Court recognized a third gender for its “hijira” community in 2009 and extended third-gender voter IDs to the population; just a few days ago, the Supreme Court in India did the same thing,” the State Department official said.
The Supreme Court past December upheld the validity of Section 377, a law that describes same-sex relations as “unnatural” and punishable with life imprisonment.
Ironically, the same court on April 15 ruled that Section 377 was not to be used against transgender people but still applicable to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.