State in India Announces Government-Sponsored Ex-Gay Therapy Program for Youth January 20, 2015

State in India Announces Government-Sponsored Ex-Gay Therapy Program for Youth

The Indian state of Goa has announced plans for a governmental program to help LGBT youth “get over same-sex feelings.”

The minister of Goa, Ramesh Tawadkar (below), told the New York Times that homosexuality is a “big problem” in India, and that the new program will help young people learn to live a “normal life.” The law would consider LGBT youth as a “problem group” in need of governmental intervention, in line with “drug addicts, dropouts and migrants.”

Mr. Tawadkar confirmed in the interview Tuesday that the state government, run by the Bharatiya Janata Party, intended to set up “camps” to treat gay, bisexual and transgender young people. He gave few specifics, but said that the program would include counseling.

“They are that part of our society who have not yet experienced the true pleasures and bliss of life,” Mr. Tawadkar said. “What does a normal life feel like? Do they know? No.”

The program will identify LGBT youth through a statewide survey, an optimistic and misguided approach in a country that still criminalizes same-sex relationships. That law will serve as a teaching point in the program in an attempt to turn gay kids straight.

Mr. Tawadkar did not say whether any young people identified as gay would be prosecuted, but he did say, “We will definitely use law as a tool to teach them what is right and what is wrong.”

At this point, it goes without saying that conversion therapy of any kind is not only morally reprehensible, but scientifically unsound and a legal violation of privacy and freedom.

It’s tough to imagine the conditions for LGBT people on the other side of the world until we hear about toxic initiatives like this one. For all the progress we have yet to make, lawmakers across the United States are slowly beginning to introduce measures that would outlaw conversion therapy. Meanwhile, an Indian state is endorsing and practicing it.

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