NEW DELHI — While the world united in celebrations after the American Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry in a judgement seen as a milestone for gay rights movement, in India a politician affiliated with the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted a particularly homophobic comment on Tuesday.
"We respect handicapped persons. Homos are genetically handicapped," tweeted former Union Minister and five-term MP Subramanian Swamy. Swamy, who has a Ph.D in Economics from Harvard, tweets from the verified @Swamy39 handle.
Swamy, a known rabble-rouser on social media, is known to hold controversial views on many things. In 2014, he "appointed" then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi a Brahmin.
In 2011, Harvard University cancelled his summer school teaching assignments after he wrote an incendiary opinion piece in DNA newspaper arguing that Muslims should have voting rights in India only if they accepted their Hindu ancestry.
His homophobic tweet upset some of his followers.
@Swamy39 May I say, with all humility, that if that is indeed your stand, then you sir, are intellectually handicapped. And that's a choice.— Rishabh Mukherjee (@rishabhm) June 30, 2015
The prejudice that surrounds the LGBTQ community in India has serious social and public health consequences. There are 2.5 million HIV infected people among India's 1.1 billion-plus population and the stigma around homosexuality stops those living with the disease from seeking treatment.