LGBT 'treatment' remark: Goa min does U-turn, CM says colleague ignorant

Panaji: With his remarks on medical treatment to the LGBT community creating a storm, Goa minister Ramesh Tawadkar today made a U-turn saying he was "misquoted" while Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar sought to pour oil on troubled waters calling his colleague "ignorant".

"I was misunderstood and misquoted. I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths," Tawadkar said as even TV news channels continued to air the footage wherein he was shown assuring medical treatment for LGBT youths to make them "normal".

"We will make them normal. We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholic Anonymous centres, we will have centres. We will train them and give them medicines too," Tawadkar, Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, had said yesterday while announcing the state's policy for the youth.

As Tawadkar's remarks drew flak from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, Chief Minister Parsekar attempted to calm things down, saying the minister must have been ignorant about the issue and that their sexual preferences were "natural".

"He must be ignorant about the issue. They (LGBT) are natural. They don't need any treatment," Parsekar told PTI. He said the minister had himself clarified the matter and that "there is no controversy".

"Youth policy speaks about drug addicted youths and sexually abused youths as a focused group. There are provisions in the central government sponsored Social Justice Scheme for such youths which can be implemented in Goa," Tawadkar said. He said when journalists asked him about LGBTs, "I told them I am not expert on the issue."

Though the minister today refused to acknowledge LGBT as a focused group, the youth policy document, already in the public domain, has mentioned them as one. "Like in the case of other target groups such as juvenile offenders, drug afflicted youth, marginalised or migrant youth, geographically disadvantaged youth, a detailed survey would be carried out among state LGBT community, so
that their problems could be specifically addressed," he had said yesterday.

On a day the Goa minister's comments on sexual preferences generated controversy, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had opposed criminalising homosexuality, saying it breeds intolerance by violating basic rights to privacy and freedom. "I staunchly oppose criminalisation of homosexuality. They violate the basic rights to privacy and freedom. These laws breed intolerance.

"We have to fight for the equality of all members of our human family regardless of any differences, including sexual orientation," Ban said in New Delhi at an event to mark the 70th anniversary of United Nations.

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