Child rights panel opposes any dilution of Section 377

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has come out strongly against the dilution of provisions criminalising gay sex. The commission has expressed concern that the dilution of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code can have a “serious impact” on the emotional and sexual behaviour of children and adolescents in the country.

Referring to the recent Delhi High Court order that legalised gay sex, DCPCR said it also opposed “deletion” of Section 377 of IPC and had sent its views to the Union home and law ministries.

“The definition of consensual and non-consensual sex may get blurred in some cases. Moreover, the judgment says anyone above 18 is an adult and can give consent in such cases. But there are adolescents who may be 18 years old but do not have the adequate decision-making ability,” DCPCR chairperson Amod Kanth said on Friday.

Kanth maintained that Section 377 is the lone provision under which sexual offences against children are covered. “There is no case of prosecution of gay couples since one case was reported in 1935,” he said.

The DCPCR said the implications of the ruling will have be to examined thoroughly as it is likely to “seriously impact the physical, psychological, emotional and sexual behaviour of children and adolescents in India.”

The DCPCR also opposed what it termed “arbitrary hike in school fees” and asked the Delhi government to make its stand clear on the issue. “The argument for fee hike is the need to pay salaries to teachers under the Sixth Pay Commission. But then it should be applied only for those schools which come under the pay panel,” Kanth added.

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He said the fee hike was a huge burden on middle and lower income groups. The DCPCR informed that there are nearly five lakh out-of-school children in Delhi, including street children, beggars, migrants and trafficked children.

The meeting saw the commission also dwell on allocations for children in the Union and state budgets during 2009-10.

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