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Goa minister takes U-turn after facing flak for LGBT remarks

After his controversial remarks over the LGBT community drew flak, Goa minister Ramesh Tawadkar on Tuesday did a U-turn over the issue saying he was misunderstood and misquoted on the issue.

“I was misunderstood and misquoted. I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths,” said Tawadkar, even as local channels continued to air the footage where he assured medical treatment to make LGBT youths “normal”.

“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,” the minister said, a day after he was widely criticised for his statements.

He said when journalists asked me about LGBTs, I told them “I am not expert on the issue.”

The minister also refused to acknowledge LGBT as a focused group, though the youth policy document which is currently in public domain has mentioned them as one.

Tawadkar made this remark while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event held in Panaji to launch the Goa State Youth Policy 2015 on the occasion of National Youth Day.

“We will make them normal. We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholic Anonymous centres, we will have centres…,” Tawadkar had said.

When asked what exactly was the role of the special centres that the government was proposing to set up for Lesbians, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth, Tawadkar said, “We will train them and (give them) medicines too.”

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 said.

Twitter comments by the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community with the hashtag #ClinicBharo dedicated to Tawadkar’s controversial statement took several digs at the Goa minister for his comments.

Says Manak Matiyani @Dafliwala: “So are they allocating land close to the beach for the #GoaLGBTClinics? Must take a dip with other patients #ClinicBharo with #AnonymousLGBT

@delhiqueerpride tweeted: “Hope the GoaGovernment clinics have separate gender dorms #AdmitLGBTAnonymous #ClinicBharo.”

The Opposition Congress has also criticised Tawadkar for what it calls making an “unscientific, illogical and brainless” statement.

“Everyone has a right to live their life the way they want to. This statement is similar to the statement made by Baba Ramdev in 2013, when he had also offered to ‘cure’ homosexuality. Is the BJP government in Goa towing the Ramdev line?” asked Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat.

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