India political party leader says gay U.S. diplomats should be ‘arrested, punished’

Yashwant Sinha DAN LITTAUER [e]Special to LGBTQ Nation[m]

NEW DELHI, India — The leader of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Wednesday that India should “arrest and punish” U.S. diplomats in India who have “same sex companions” as same-sex acts is illegal in the country.

Yashwant Sinha

Yashwant Sinha

“Media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of U.S. diplomats’ companions. ‘Companions’ means that they are of the same sex,” said former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha.

“Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country, just as paying less wages was illegal in the U.S. So, why does not the government of India go ahead and arrest them and punish them,” he said.

Last week, India’s Supreme Court struck down a 2009 lower court decision that had decriminalized homosexuality, restoring a colonial-era law – Section 377 – that criminalizes gay sex.

“My view is irrespective of Section 377. But the point is, as of now it is illegal,” Sinha added. “The law is still against same-sex relationships. Whether it should be there or not is another question.”

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“So, following the rule book, since same-sex relationships are illegal in this country, those diplomats who are into it should be arrested, just as those in the U.S. paying less wages are in the wrong following the U.S. law.”

Last week an Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general, was reportedly arrested, handcuffed and later strip-searched by U.S. immigration officials.

Sinha’s remarks followed a complaint by a maid that the diplomat who employed her was paying her less than the minimum wages stipulated under U.S. visa requirements.

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