India: Sodomy and obscenity charges formally filed in trial of 'Lucknow Four'

Following their release on bail in August 2001, the HIV/AIDS prevention workers now face charges from the Lucknow police.
It has been some time that Arif Jafar, Director of our Regional Liaison Office in Lucknow, and the rest of our colleagues who were jailed by the Lucknow police have been released on bail. During their incarceration we received immeasurable support from all of you and that support was immensely helpful to us in keeping up our morale and in encouraging us to continue with the work that we do with the highly vulnerable population of MSM in trying to save lives from the scourge of HIV and AIDS.
The current situation is that the Lucknow police have gone ahead and filed a charge sheet against the four of our staff in the magistrate’s court. They have been charged under the same sections that were mentioned in the FIR, namely, Section 377 of the IPC read with Sections 120B and 109 of the IPC [conspiracy to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature and abetment of carnal intercourse against the order of nature], Section 292 of IPC [Obscenity], Section 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representations of Women’s Act, and Section 60 of the Copyrights Act.

The fact that before, during and after the arrests we had given full information to the police on the context in which we did HIV/AIDS intervention work with MSM under the national policy of targeted interventions has been totally ignored by the police. However our lawyers have perused the charge sheet and believe that there are a lot of factual and legal errors and misrepresentations in the same. We are in the process of finalising the next course of action on the legal front, but there is a high probability that we shall be filing for a discharge. We are hopeful of succeeding in the courts, and repose faith in the justice system and believe that ultimately justice shall be done. We do not think the Indian Judiciary will punish us for trying to save lives by following policy formed by the government of the country.

Next we must state that the support of all our friends have never waned through this whole process and with their help and support and with the hard work that all our staff have put in this past few months, our office in Lucknow that was opened after a court order on the 14th September 2001, is now fully functional, up and running. We have a Resource Centre in the office that has a very wide collection of materials on male sexualities and reproductive health issues, and we would urge any one who needs any form of help with regards to such materials to please feel at ease to approach us for the same or to visit us at our office. Please also contact us for any other help that we may be in a position to render to you.

Apart from all those whom we must thank for their overt support, and especially to Lok Prakash and Aditya Bondyopadhyay in India for their coordination and support work particularly in Lucknow itself, we must also thank some of the friends and supporters who have rendered valuable help and support from the background, even if they could not come to the fore or make overt statement or take public positions, given the constraints of their offices and positions. At the same time Shivananda, who was working from our London office at the time of the arrests, was able to coordinate an international response, obtaining encouraging support from a range of British political leaders, individuals, as well as from international NGOs and human rights organisations, and we must thank them also.
The Naz Foundation International and Bharosa Trust
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