An Indian minister has said he will set up treatment centres offering to “cure” lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.
Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ramesh Tawadkar told reporters in Panaji, Goa, that: “We will make them normal. We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholic Anonymous centres”.
When pressed for details Mr Tawadkar added: “We will train them and (give them) medicines too,” Indian newspaper The Hindu reported.
Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the LGBT rights programme from Human Rights Watch, told The Independent: “It is just outrageous and it is shocking but unfortunately after the 377 case was turned down India still criminalise homosexuality and this plays into all kinds of prejudices.”
Last year India restored a ban on gay sex, upholding section 377 of the 153-year-old British colonial-era law that stated a same-sex relationship was an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.
The decision overturned a landmark ruling in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that banning “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” was a violation of fundamental rights.
Mr Dittrich continued: “It is such a violation of the right of non-discrimination and the right to privacy, so we are really very critical of this statement.”
The minister’s remarks have already caused widespread outrage across India, with many taking to social media to express their anger at his comments.
Harish Iyer, a prominent LGBT rights activist, wrote on Twitter yesterday in response to Mr Tawadkar’s remarks: “Dear Goa minister, I called in sick to work, I have gay.”
He called on higher Indian authorities to condemn the Goan minister’s remarks, telling Indian news organisation NDTV: “When you are silent about someone making such an irresponsible statement, you are actually admitting it”.
Meanwhile, in Delhi United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon accused India of returning to criminalising homosexuality.
In a statement Mr Ki-moon said: "I am proud to stand for the equality of all people - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
“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."
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