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India court calls for gay and HIV count

India's Supreme Court is debating the legality of decriminalizing gay sex and has asked the government to provide LGBT records
Mumbai Pride march in January

The Indian Supreme Court asked the government to supply the number of gay people in the country during a debate on whether to repeal the legalization of gay sex.

Section 377, an old colonial law which outlawed same-sex relationships and made them punishable by a 10-year jail term, was overturned in 2009.

However, the debate returned to the court earlier this month and today judges at Delhi's High Court called on the government to provide the number of gay people in India, as well as how many are living with HIV, before the next hearing.

The bench also chastised the government for not providing sufficient information in the first place.

'You should have done your homework before coming to the court' the bench told an official, appearing in the court, The Times of India reported.

When making its decision to abolish the country's 148-year-old law banning gay relationships in 2009, the court heard that 8% of LGBT Indians had HIV.

But the Supreme Court are now questioning that figure.

Yesterday (29 February) religious groups told judges homosexuality is 'horrendous' and argued being gay is a disease, which can be cured through counselling and rehabilitation.

Other Christian groups, including the Utkal Christian Council and the Apostolic Churches Alliance also voiced their opposition to the Supreme Court's decision, as well as Delhi's Krantikari Manuvadi Morcha group.

There was confusion last week when it was reported a government lawyer, PP Malhotra, said gay sex was 'highly immoral and against societal order’.

The home ministry subsequently issued a statement distancing themselves from Malhotra’s statement, saying it was a ‘miscommunication’ and he was reading from the wrong file.

On Tuesday (28 February), a government representative further clarified that they do not want to overturn the High Court's 2009 decriminalisation of gay sex.

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