Monday, September 29, 2008

Gay rights & government

Read this interesting post titled Widow remarriage is an offence? on Swantah Sukhay about the Government of India's affidavit regarding IPC Section 377. Avinash quips:
The last mughal, Bahadur Shah Jafar, might have held more liberal opinions than our current rulers in Delhi.

I disagree with Avinash only to the extent that I think it is wrong for the government to lead public opinion, as much as it is wrong to follow it. Personal rights have been granted by the constitution and the government's job is to guarantee the said rights, nothing more, nothing less.

Encouraging the government to lead is self-defeating, especially so in social matters, since each one of us will want to be led in a different direction, sometimes radically so as experience shows. Indeed, the government's stand in this case will surely be seen and appreciated by many as moral leadership.

On a related note, I am confused why the Home Ministry (the one that filed this affidavit) is involved at all in the "toning down" of a law. The law is either constitutional or it is not. If it is, then it can only be repealed or amended via legislative action of the Parliament (and not executive bodies like the Home or Health Ministry); if it is not then the Supreme Court can strike it down regardless of the other arms of government. Can anyone shed some light?

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