Camps to ‘fix’ homosexuals in India violate basic human rights

Imagine being told your entire way of life was abnormal, and that you were going to be sent away so you could be fixed. While this scenario may sound unlikely, it is the reality of homosexual individuals in the state of Goa, located in India.

According to an article by The New York Times, Goa’s government is attempting to set up camps and programs that help homosexual individuals eliminate their affection for the same gender, and therefore “lead a normal life.” This information was confirmed by Ramesh Tawadkar, Goa’s minister for sports and youth affairs.

“We will tell them what to do, and how to get over same-sex feelings,” Tawadkar said.

Tawadkar’s plans were revealed on Jan. 12 in the state capital Panjim, when Goa’s state youth policy of 2015 was announced, according to The Times. The article said homosexual individuals will be regarded in the same light as drug addicts and dropouts, and therefore considered a part of the “problem group.” It is also important to note that same-sex relationships in India are illegal.

The ruling government of Goa, the Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to set up camps to eradicate these same-sex feelings, using counseling to treat gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

The Daily Mail reported that these individuals will also be given medicines to curb their tendencies.

“They are part of that society who have not yet experienced the true pleasures and bliss of life,” Tawadkar said. “What does a normal life feel like? Do they know? No.”

According to The New York Times, these homosexual individuals are going to be found through use of a survey. There is some uncertainty as to whether or not there will be any response — considering homosexuality and gay sex has been considered a criminal offense in India since colonial times.

Unsurprisingly, this policy has been met with backlash. Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has voiced his disapproval of the criminalization of homosexual behavior in India during his visit to the country on January 12.

“I speak out because laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination,” said Ki-moon, at a UN event in New Delhi. “Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance.”

Intolerance is exactly what many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals face every day. Although we are living in a time period where more and more individuals are “coming out,” homophobic attitudes still exist — as seen in the case provided by Goa.

We are in 2015. Our world has accomplished so many feats; we have sent a man to the moon and given women the right to vote. Still, intolerance for homosexuality exists. These tendencies cannot just be eradicated.

Telling a homosexual or bisexual or transgender individual to abandon their feelings is like telling someone to change their eye color. It’s impossible to do. It is still shocking that so many individuals believe homosexuality is a choice. It is not a choice.

Associate Director of the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program Guillermo De Los Reyes said what is happening in Goa is a total violation of basic human rights.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party is intending to create ‘camps’ to treat LGBT young people with the purpose to ‘make them normal,’ an action I found outrageous,” De Los Reyes said.

“The Nazis in Germany and Fidel Castro in Cuba did similar things in the past — each case with its own geo-political and time differences — but at the end, those cases resulted in atrocious experiments that violated all forms of human rights. We, as members of the global community, need to show solidarity to the citizens of Goa by protesting these heinous acts.”

Homosexual individuals do not just wake up one morning and decide to be gay. It is a part of who they are, and they should not have to push down these feelings because it makes someone else uncomfortable. And they should never be penalized for their tendencies.

We are all equal, and should be treated as such.

Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment

  • This article does not tell the whole story of this incident and contains inaccuracies. It is reactionary and a little hysterical.

    The unfortunate comments were made by a minister (Ramesh Tawadkar) in the Goa BJP. He has since apologised for the comments. The article incorrectly states that the relevant minister “confirmed” the government’s position on gays and lesbian youth – incorrect, the minister was the person who MADE the comments.

    On January 14 (12 days before this article was published) The Chief Minister (the big boss of the state) stated that homosexuality is a “natural quality” that the minister made his comments in “ignorance” and that the state has, and will not have, any special such policies relating to gay and lesbian youths. Just do a google search on “goa chief minister homosexuality natural quality” it’s all there.

    Get your facts right and stay up to date on a story if you are going to take the trouble to write about it! Goa relies heavily on tourism and careless journalism like this is harmful to people’s livelihoods.

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