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Blinkers off

Yes, Chief Minister Parsekar, your minister is ignorant. He should apologise, then

By: Express News Service |
January 15, 2015 1:52:25 am

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar is spot on when he says his sports and youth affairs minister, Ramesh Tawadkar, is ignorant about the LGBT community. Tawadkar, who on TV channels on Tuesday promised to set up treatment centres on the lines of those run by Alcoholics Anonymous to turn LGBT youth “normal”, has been quick to recognise the snub and has blamed the media for “misquoting” him. Well, they do it all the time. As civil society cracked down, Parsekar had no choice but to denounce his minister. It is the attempt to condemn preferences that don’t conform with the majority view that is abnormal behaviour in a democracy. The minister owes an apology.

Tawadkar represents a section of our political class which has a prejudiced view of sexual minorities. Unaware of global debates on the rights of the LGBT community, they persist with their Victorian ideas of sexuality and, worse, want it to be policy. The refusal on the part of the political executive to do away with Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises gay sex, is also a reflection of this prejudiced mindset. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, currently visiting India, reminded the government on Tuesday, in the context of Tawadkar’s remark, that a law which criminalises homosexuality breeds intolerance.

Despite the Centre persisting with the contentious IPC provision, states like Tamil Nadu have done much to “mainstream” the LGBT community without insisting that they conform. Youth in the LGBT community are neither secretive nor apologetic about their sexual preference and are doing their bit to educate society. Parsekar should now nudge his minister, especially since he is in charge of youth affairs in what is perhaps the most globalised state in the country, to look without blinkers and see the new world.

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