Panaji, Jan 13 (IANS) An avalanche of criticism in India and in the global media has forced the Goa government to deny any plans to “cure” LGBT youth, even as Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ramesh Tawadkar Tuesday claimed he was misquoted on the issue.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, in a bid to douse the controversy sparked by Tawadkar’s claim that Goa will set up centres to train and medicate youth with alternative sexuality, also said alternative sexual orientation was a “natural thing”, rapping his cabinet colleague for “ignorance”.
Earlier through the day, the social media, civil society, national and international media as well as the opposition castigated Tawadkar for his controversial comments.
Comments with hashtag #ClinicBharo were dedicated to his statement by the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community on Twitter and took several digs at the Goa minister.
Tawadkar, while speaking to the media on the sidelines of a function held to launch the Goa State Youth Policy 2015 Monday, said the Goa government was contemplating to start centres on the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous to make the LGBT youth “normal”.
“We will train them and (give them) medicines too,” the minister also said.
Buckling under pressure, Tawadkar Tuesday insisted he was misquoted. “I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths,” Tawadkar told reporters.
But the import of Tawadkar’s comments Monday was not missed out on the international media, with the BBC online website running a story which said Tawadkar’s statement on his plans to “cure” gays “has led to outrage in India with many people condemning it on social media sites like Twitter”.
Incidentally, Tawadkar’s comments came on the same day UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to New Delhi Monday said he “staunchly opposed the criminalisation of homosexuality” in India.
The opposition Congress party has criticised Tawadkar for what it calls making an “unscientific, illogical and brainless” statement.
“Everyone has a right to live their life the way they want to. This statement is similar to the statement made by Baba Ramdev in 2013, when he also offered to ‘cure’ homosexuality. Is the BJP government in Goa towing the (Yoga guru) Ramdev line?” asked Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat.
With Tawadkar’s statement drawing across the board condemnation, Chief Minister Parsekar was forced to clarify that his government has no plans to set up centres to “cure” LGBT youth with medicine and training and that alternative sexual orientation was a “natural thing”.
“No no. It is a natural thing,” Parsekar said when asked about the government position on the orientation of the LGBT community.
Asked to comment on Tawadkar’s controversial statement made on the sidelines of a government function, Parsekar first tried to dodge the media but later said: “I don’t feel he will say that, but if at all, it could be ignorance then.”