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Indian health minister calls homosexuality disease

July 05, 2011

An Indian gay rights supporter dances during the Freedom Mumbai March in Mumbai, January 29, 2011. — Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: India's health minister has outraged activists by calling homosexuality a ''disease'' and ''completely unnatural'' during a conference on HIV/AIDS.

Ghulam Nabi Azad told the conference Monday that it was unfortunate that homosexuality has come to India. He echoed a common refrain in this conservative country that homosexual sex is a Western import.

Gay sex was illegal in India until 2009 when the Delhi High Court struck down the law that made sex between people of the same gender punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Roughly 2.5 million Indians have HIV, making it the country with the largest number of people living with the disease in Asia.

Experts say the marginalisation of gay people in India hinders the fight against HIV/AIDS.