The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that there were around 25 lakh homosexuals in the country of which 1.75 lakh — seven per cent — were HIV-infected.
An affidavit filed in the court by Sayan Chatterjee, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, says, “The population of men who have sex with men (MSM) was estimated to be 25 lakh in India.”
The affidavit cites the figures of the National Aids Control programme.
India’s population is about 1 billion. So the government’s figures mean that about 0.25% of the population is homosexual. Double that, because the affidavit quotes only male homosexuals. The prevailing figures in the world are usually found to be between 1% to 5%. If the base figure is wrong, then can the government’s figures on the incidence of HIV/aids be believed?
The report continues:
During Tuesday’s hearing, counsel for NGO Naz Foundation, which was the petitioner in the Delhi HC, asserted that continued criminalising of gay sex prevents homosexuals from coming out in the open.
“This population is hidden in society and they are not available for getting proper healthcare facilities. There is a greater chance of the transmission of disease among them,” advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the NGO, said.
The strong possibility of under-counting by the government is sufficient reason to take this claim seriously enough to investigate it further. After all, this has serious repercussions on public health in general.