Thiruvananthapuram: Amid the row over Sabarimala temple denying entry to women, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday asserted the Indian Constitution does not permit gender discrimination and added that they should be allowed to enter whichever shrine they chose to visit.
"We have seen many past customs and traditions that have had to evolve with time. If you look at the fact that up to the 1930s, Dalits could not be allowed into temples and we all know that was a wrong practice. Similarly, the idea of discriminating against gender will inevitably have to change," Tharoor said.
Welcoming the decision by the Bombay High Court to allow women to enter the Haji Ali mosque in Mumbai, he added that the same principle applies to all religions that whatever the tradition may be, the Constitution does not permit gender discrimination.
He also said that women should be allowed to enter any shrine they wish to without any discrimination on the basis of caste or gender.
"I think Ayyappa is a deity mainly worshipped by men. So, I think that there will be a few women who will want to make the arduous trek. But those who do, should not be prevented on unconstitutional grounds," Tharoor added.
The Kerala Government had earlier this month told the Supreme Court that banning entry of women of menstrual age in Sabarimala temple in the state is a "matter of religion" and it is duty bound to "protect the right to practice the religion of these devotees".
In an affidavit, the state government said the administration of the temple vests with the Travancore Devaswom Board and the decision of the priests stands final in the matter of worship.
The affidavit was filed on a PIL by the association seeking entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple which, as a practice, does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises. However, the women, who have crossed menopause, are allowed.