AMU action against ‘gay’ professor condemned

There is still no clarity on who framed Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) Modern Indian Languages Department chairman Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras who was suspended on February 10...

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi | Published: February 19, 2010 4:33:56 am

There is still no clarity on who framed Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) Modern Indian Languages Department chairman Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras who was suspended on February 10 after a video clip showed him having consensual sex with another man. University sources said that it was not the students but a local news channel which was behind the “sting” operation.

Meanwhile,sources close to the Vice-Chancellor’s office said that the university was taking a serious view of the affair.

“We cannot disregard this incident,which took place in the campus. The university will inquire into the matter,” said a top official of the university.

“The professor will have all chances of representing himself before the inquiry committee and he could access all legal options,” the official added.

“Prof Siras has been suspended for gross misconduct on campus. The university will decide whether to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him based on the complaint. If chargesheeted,he will be given a chance to respond,” said AMU Public Relations Officer Rahat Abrar.

“The professor has been asked to vacate the campus in seven days,but will be free to come to the campus while the inquiry is on,” Abrar added. The professor,however,will not be free to leave Aligarh.

Siras,who was due to retire in September,got divorced shortly after his marriage,and was living alone on the campus. Siras was unavailable for comment.

The decision of the AMU to suspend the professor has come in for widespread condemnation from rights activists.

“It is the constitutional right of all adults to have consensual sex in their own private space. One could have anticipated this kind of reaction before the Delhi High Court judgment on Section 377 last year. However,even though the matter is now before the Supreme Court,it is clear that the High Court has upheld this constitutional right,” said Ponni Arasu,a gay rights activist.

“The university’s response was not to condemn those who did the sting operation but to discriminate against the professor. If institutions have these kinds of reactions,we will hold the institution accountable for discrimination at work place on the basis of sexual orientation,” Arasu added.

Photographer Sunil Gupta,who is openly gay,says this looks like a frame-up. “There should be some kind of crime cell to address issues of blatant homophobia. It was not as if the professor forced his lifestyle choices or views on any of his students. He wants to keep this quiet,which is why we are not protesting on the streets as yet,” said Gupta. The LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual,Trans and Intersex) community is,meanwhile,circulating a signed letter of protest.

“It is not a colleague or student,so why is the university getting involved and talking of moral turpitude? We need an organisation like Lamda Legal,a US based organisation that gives legal aid to gay people in distress to act on these kinds of cases,” says Vikram Doctor of Gay Bombay.

“Someone’s sexuality should not reflect how good or bad they are at work. If they are meeting their goals who they are having consensual sex with should not matter. I am sure if he was sleeping with a woman they would not raise an eyebrow. It is clearly a case of homophobia,” says gay rights activist Shruti.

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