LGBT row: Opposition steps up demand for Goa minister's removal

Panaji, Jan 14: The opposition on Wednesday stepped up pressure on the BJP-led Goa government, demanding the resignation and an apology from Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ramesh Tawadkar for his plans to set up camps to "cure" LGBT youth.

LGBT row: Demand for Goa min's picks up
Demanding his removal from the cabinet, Nationalist Congress Party state vice-president Trajano D'Mello Wednesday said Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar should sack Tawadkar, who brought international infamy on Goa through his "insensitive" remarks.

"Through his senseless comments Tawadkar has brought shame and infamy to Goa on an international level. Parsekar himself said the comments were made in ignorance. Does he want Goa to be ruled by ignorant ministers? He should be sacked immediately," D'Mello told a press conference.

Tawadkar, while speaking to the media on the sidelines of a function held to launch the Goa State Youth Policy 2015, Monday said the state government was contemplating starting centres on the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous in order to make lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth normal.

"We will train them and (give them) medicines too," the minister had also said.

After an avalanche of criticism in India and in the international media, Tawadkar Tuesday claimed that he had been misquoted, even as the chief minister denied any plans on the government's part to "cure" LGBT youth.

Parsekar, while speaking to reporters Tuesday at the state secretariat, even rapped Tawadkar for his ignorance.

But subsequently in another interview to The New York Times, Tawadkar insisted that the state government would go ahead with the plan to set up "camps" for LGBT youth and went on to say that homosexuality was a "big problem".

"We will tell them what to do, and how to get over same-sex feelings," Tawadkar was quoted as saying in the NYT interview.

The report published on the NYT web site late Tuesday further claimed that in a telephonic interview Tawadkar said (yoga guru) Ramdev's yoga expertise would be used to counsel the LGBT youth.

Following the NYT interview, the Aam Aadmi Party in Goa has demanded an apology from the minister for his comments.

"The AAP would like to categorically state that such assertions, by a youth affairs minister no less, are against any established medical consensus which clearly states that LGBT sexuality is a natural occurrence and not a lifestyle choice, let alone a disease that can be 'cured'," AAP spokesperson Oscar Rebello said in a statement here.

"The AAP demands that the minister immediately apologise for his remarks and the Goa government make public the details of the youth policy that includes such sick proposals," the AAP statement said.

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