A few days back, Goa’s Youth Affairs Minister, Ramesh Tawadkar became infamous for claiming that the state will try to make Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth (LGBTs) “normal”. Social Media went after his skin and so did the national MSM. As it turns out, the Goa State Youth Policy has no mention of such centres. In fact I reproduce the only paragraph where LGBT is mentioned in the entire document:
It needs to be recognised that all young people within an age group are unlikely to be a homogenous group. There will be different segments of youth with varying needs and aspirations that need to be addressed.
These are disadvantaged youth due to socio-economic conditions including SC/ST/OBC, young women, dropouts from formal education, marginalised/migrant youth, youth at risk and in conflict with law including substance abuse, human trafficking, hazardous occupations, juvenile offenders etc., differently abled youth, youth with chronic physical & mental ailments, marginalised/migrant youth, stigmatised youth (LGBT), geographically disadvantaged youth (rural/mining/forest/slums).
The above paragraph indicates, the Government considers LGBTs as “disadvantaged youth” because they might have been “stigmatised“. Further, the document say, one of the objectives of this policy, is “To inculcate values of tolerance, at the same time recognizing and respecting the diversity lifestyle of various sections”
Both these statements seem pretty sympathetic to the cause of LGBTs and in no way indicate that the Government intends to “normalize” them by opening any centre, because they feel LGBTs are abnormal. So how did the Minister say this? What was his basis to announce something which the Government hadn’t planned? I decided to see the actual video where the Minister says this. Below I quote a transcript of the relevant portion:
Reporter: In the case of Lesbians and Gays aap kya karne wale ho, unko aap vapas, are you going to make them normal?
Minister: Unko Normal banana ke liye centre banayenge
Minister: Alcoholics Anonymous centre hote hai na, isi tarah se centre for gays and lesbians
Reporter: How will you train them?
Minister: Training deke medicines deke
Reporter: To make them normal?
The first question needs to be asked to the reporter, on where did he get the idea for this question? A highly leading question, which doesn’t bear relation to anything in the policy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any video of the entire press conference, but I can only imagine the Minister making a general statement saying they will normalize disadvantaged or stigmatised youth. The wily reported could have picked up from here and put up that question as a trap, in which our dear Minister fell wilfully.
Eventually, the way it was played on media was, as if the Minister and the Government, had proactive plan to “normalize” LGBTs, when in fact the policy was in fact very sympathetic to the cause of LGBTs. Of course, this is not an attempt to exonerate the minister, who should have been alert and realised that the question wasn’t very straight. He should have made it clear that any centres the Government has planned are for other individuals and not for “normalizing” LGBTs.