23 March 2019
An Indian transgender joins a gay pride parade in New Delhi in 2009. Photo: AFP
An Indian transgender joins a gay pride parade in New Delhi in 2009. Photo: AFP

Indian minister under fire for plan to make gays ‘normal’

An Indian minister has come under fire after he announced the Goa state government is planning to open centers to treat gay people in the region, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We will make them normal,” Ramesh Tawadkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sports and youth affairs minister, told reporters. “We will have centers for them, like Alcoholics Anonymous centers.”

He said the government will “train them and give them medicines too”.

Gay rights groups described the comments as offensive and ignorant, while the main opposition Congress party blasted the minister’s attitude as shameless.

“We should not respond to this kind of stupidity,” said Anjali Gopalan, founder of Naz Foundation, which first launched a case to decriminalize homosexual sex in India.

“It’s better to ignore such things coming from [Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party]. Their regressive attitude is not surprising,” Gopalan told the French news agency, calling the minister an “incompetent nincompoop”.

Tawadkar later said he had been misquoted even as television footage of his comments continued to be run on local news channels.

The backlash came a day after the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, condemned legislation against gay sex.

Ban, speaking on a visit to New Delhi on Monday, said laws against gay and lesbian relationships breed intolerance, although he did not refer specifically to India’s colonial-era prohibition.

The supreme court reimposed a ban on gay sex in 2013, ruling that responsibility for changing the 1861 law rested with lawmakers and not judges.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe