A MINISTER in the state of Goa on India’s western coast has announced plans to set up a program to “treat” LGBTI youth.
Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ramesh Tawadkar revealed the plans as part of Goa’s State Youth Policy for 2015 at a function on Monday.
The government plan, he said, would also target drug addicts, migrants, juvenile offenders, and the geographically-marginalised.
It was revealed that the first step would be to identify these target groups through a statewide survey.
“They are that part of our society who have not yet experienced the true pleasures and bliss of life,” he said.
The plan to open up centres, which Tawadkar likened to Alcoholics Anonymous centres, would involve using therapy and “medicines” to make LGBTI youth “normal”.
Tawadar also said: “We will definitely use law as a tool to teach them what is right and what is wrong.”
The minister’s announcement has attracted widespread international and local criticism.
India’s Supreme Court in 2013 re-imposed the nation’s colonial-era ban on gay sex, a decision that has been hailed by activists as a step back for the country.
Activists have said that they the return of the ban is being used to harass alleged members of the gay community.
On his visit to New Delhi, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his opposition to India’s gay sex laws.
“Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance,” he said in statement made on the same day as Tawadkar’s comments.
Goa’s chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar has responded to the criticism by denying the claims.
He added that alternative sexual orientation was a “natural thing” and explained his colleague’s statements were made in ignorance.