Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey drew criticism for his apparent homophobic and sexist comment while criticising Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday. Dubey said the ruling party’s leaders feared hugging Gandhi “as their wives may divorce them”.

Dubey also made a reference to the controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexual acts. “Why should we hug him,” Dubey said, according to PTI. “Section 377 hasn’t been scrapped as yet. And our wives will also give divorce to us. If Rahul Gandhi gets married, then we will hug him.”

On July 19, after his speech in the Lok Sabha during the no-confidence motion debate, Gandhi had walked up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hugged him. While the moment set off hundreds of memes on social media and gave netizens an opportunity to embrace humour, newspapers across the country splashed the picture of the hug across their front pages, to commentary ranging from “Rahul Gandhi creates flutter” to “theatrics and drama”.

On Wednesday, Gandhi had said BJP MPs now take “two steps back” on seeing him as they feared he would hug them too.