The government of Goa, on India’s western coast, is setting up a program to get young gay people to lead “a normal life,” according to the state’s minister for sports and youth affairs.
“We will tell them what to do and how to get over same-sex feelings,” the minister, Ramesh Tawadkar, said on Tuesday in a telephone interview. Mr. Tawadkar called homosexuality a “big problem” in Indian society, where same-sex relations are illegal.
Mr. Tawadkar revealed the plans on Monday in Panjim, the state capital, as he announced Goa’s state youth policy for 2015. The new policy treats gay youths as a problem group to be addressed with government action, along with drug addicts, dropouts, migrants and others.
Mr. Tawadkar confirmed in the interview Tuesday that the state government, run by the Bharatiya Janata Party, intended to set up “camps” to treat gay, bisexual and transgender young people. He gave few specifics, but said that the program would include counseling.
“They are that part of our society who have not yet experienced the true pleasures and bliss of life,” Mr. Tawadkar said. “What does a normal life feel like? Do they know? No.”
The first step, he said, would be to identify such young people through a statewide survey. But it was not clear how candidly people might respond, given that gay sex has been a crime in India since colonial times; the Supreme Court upheld the law in 2013.
Mr. Tawadkar did not say whether any young people identified as gay would be prosecuted, but he did say, “We will definitely use law as a tool to teach them what is right and what is wrong.” Continue reading >>