Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's health
minister, has denied he said being gay is a “disease,” The
The official angered gay rights
activists with remarks he made last Monday at a national meeting of
regional elected leaders on HIV/AIDS prevention.
Traveling in China, Azad told reporters
that he never said that being gay was “unnatural and not good for
India” during his talk in New Delhi.
“I said the disease is posing a great
problem. I was naturally talking about the HIV disease, when the
subject of the conference was HIV/AIDS, not MSM [men who have sex
with men],” he said.
“Some activists thought by disease I
meant homosexuality. They put superlatives as their own. I never
used the word homosexuality, or gays, in my speech. I only used
technical terms that the Health Ministry uses … The disease, I
said, was HIV.”
He went on to explain his “unnatural”
comment: “There has been a long debate, for two years, in
electronic and print media, with some people saying this is natural,
some people saying this is not natural. I was not referring to my
[opinion]. I said there has been a big debate in our country, in the
media, that some people are saying natural, some people are saying
While Azad did not mention the words
“gay” or “homosexual,” his speech included references to men
having sex with men.
“It is a disease which has come from
other countries,” he said at the conference.
“Even though it is unnatural, it
exists in our country and is now spreading, making it tough to detect
it,” Azad added.
“With relationships changing, men are
having sex with men now. Though it is easy to find women sex workers
and educate them on sex, it is a challenge to identify men having sex
with men.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this