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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Indian State Minister Slammed over Plans to ‘Normalise’ Gays

New Delhi: A state minister from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party sparked outrage on Tuesday over his plans to make homosexuals “normal”, one day after UN chief Ban Ki-moon accused India of fostering intolerance with its gay sex ban.

Ramesh Tawadkar, from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), announced plans to open up centres to treat gays and lesbians in the coastal resort state of Goa.

“We will make them normal. We will have centres for them, like Alcoholics Anonymous centres,” Tawadkar told reporters on Monday, adding that the Goa government would “train them and give them medicines too”.

Ramesh Tawadkar
Tawadkar, Goa’s sports and youth affairs minister, made the comments after releasing the state’s policy on youth issues which listed lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) as a stigmatised group that needed attention.

 Tawadkar’s comments drew widespread criticism and ridicule from gay rights groups who branded them offensive, while hostile remarks were posted on Twitter and other social media.

UN Secretary-General Ban said laws against gay and lesbian relationships breed intolerance, although he did not refer specifically to India’s colonial-era ban on gay sex.

Speaking on a visit to the capital New Delhi on Monday night, Ban said he “staunchly opposed the criminalisation of homosexuality”.

I am proud to stand for the equality of all people — including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” Ban said in an address to a gathering that included India’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi.

“I speak out because laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance.”

Goa is one of India's smallest state but easily its richest.
Goa was the site of the first European settlement in India
There are still signs of its Portuguese heritage visible
India’s Supreme Court reimposed a ban on gay sex in late 2013, ruling that responsibility for changing the 1861 law rested with lawmakers and not judges.

Gay sex had been effectively legalised in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that banning “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” was a violation of fundamental rights.

Anjali Gopalan, founder of Naz Foundation, which first launched a case to decriminalise homosexual sex, called minister Tawadkar an “incompetent nincompoop”. Oh no! Not that! How will he ever recover?

“We should not respond to this kind of stupidity. If anyone needs treatment, it’s people like him ... he should realise he sounds like a complete fool,” Gopalan said.

Funny, 25 or 30 years ago he would have been called a genius.