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Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad speaking at a press conference in New Delhi - AFP.
Indian gay rights activists have voiced shock and outrage over public comments by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that homosexuality was a 'disease' brought to the country by foreigners.
Speaking at a national meeting on Monday of district and mayoral leaders on HIV/AIDS prevention, Azad stated that homosexuality was 'unnatural and not good for India'.
"It is a disease which has come from other countries," he added.
"Even through it is unnatural, it exists in our country and is now fast spreading, making it tough to detect it."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the president of the ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi also attended the meeting, but had left before Azad spoke.
Coming almost two years to the day after a landmark Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality, his comments prompted a storm of protest and calls for an immediate retraction.
"I think the minister needs to apologise immediately. He has insulted the entire homosexual community," said Mohnish Kabir Malhotra, a publicist and gay rights activist.
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