18/03/2016 1:35 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

RSS Stand Is Clear: We Disapprove Socially, But Decriminalize Homosexuality

Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or the National Volunteers Force chief Mohan Bhagwat attends a meeting of their organization in Bangalore, India, Friday, March 7, 2014. The three day annual top level meeting of RSS, the parent organization of India's main political opposition Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) started Friday. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

NEW DELHI — Dattatreya Hosable, a top leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has clarified his statement at the India Today Conclave on Thursday that his organization was in favour of decriminalizing homosexuality.

After his statement made news and raised hopes that with RSS backing, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party might be able to make a progressive legislation, Hosabale added a caveat this morning: homosexuals are not criminals who should be punished, but they should be treated as a “psychological case.”

Hosable also said that gay marriages should be prohibited because they institutionalize homosexuality.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes gay sex in India.

But despite Hosabale's clarification, it still means the RSS supports the decriminalization of homosexuality. The BJP could take a cue from that. Homosexuals in India care about what the law says. They can probably live with the social disapproval of the Sangh or for anyone else. And the Sangh, a conservative organization, still needs to be lauded for taking a progressive stand on the matter.

On Thursday, Hosabale said that RSS was moving with the times. "Why should RSS have an opinion on homosexuality? We don’t discuss sexual preferences of individuals... RSS is changing according to the needs of time,” he said.

Last week, Lok Sabha voted against the introduction of a private member’s bill by Congress Party lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, seeking to decriminalize gay sex.

Tharoor had tried to introduce the bill in December, 2015, when it was similarly scuttled by lawmakers.

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