It’s quite poignant to hear such a humiliating statement approaching from Maharashtra Health Minister Dr. Deepak Sawant , who is from the Shiv Sena, triggered a row on saying lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders(LGBT Community) were in need of “psychological treatment and counseling.”
The minister was speaking in the state Legislative Assembly while responding to a query by BJP member Ashish Shelar, who sought to know the government’s action play to allay fears of transmission of HIV among the LGBT community. The opposition has strongly condemned Sawant’s statement advocating physiological treatment for the LGBT community, urging him to direct his time and energy towards the development of the state rather than creating unnecessary controversies.
Terming the statement as unwarranted, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Majeed Memon said that Sawant’s remarks had betrayed the ignorance of ministers on the matter. “Such statements by ministers only show their ignorance. They are unnecessarily creating controversies when they should be directing their time and energy towards the issues which are pending and for the development of Maharashtra. This statement is absolutely unwarranted and uncalled for,” Memon told ANI.
Congress leader Manish Tewari took a dig at Sawant and said that the latter needs psychiatric counseling for making such a statement. “Someone who feels that the LGBT community requires physiological treatment possibly himself requires psychiaritic counseling,” Tewari said.
In January this year, BJP- led government in Goa had landed in a similar row when it’s Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ramesh Tawadkar said the government would set up centers to “administer treatment to the LGBT youths to make them normal”. Goa CM Laxmikant Pareskar was later forced to douse the fire, claiming his minister was “ignorant.
Meanwhile, responding to a demand by NCP’s Jitendra Awhad to make it mandatory for all blood banks to switch over to the Nucleic Acid Testing module for screening blood donations, Sawant shared plans to introduce this facility in all government blood banks, while saying that discussions will be held with private blood banks for introducing it in
their facilities too. The minister had, however, later done a U-turn, saying he was misunderstood and misquoted on the issue. He clarified his earlier statement regarding the LGBT communities, stating that he had only called for proper counseling to be provided to those afflicted with HIV.
“It (the LGBT community) was not mentioned, I was just answering a question. I said that there should be a proper counseling for this. I should be tested if I am having HIV+, but without testing you should not have preconceived idea about the certain group of people,”Sawant said. If the test is positive then we should have the treatment for that and
that treatment is available at every centre. Certain organizations are working for that, we will definitely give grant to them,” he added. People around the world face violence and inequality- and sometimes torture, even execution- because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of our selves and should never lead to discrimination or mental harassment
As a society, we need to learn to accept all ‘persons’ with equal human rights irrespective of their choices, everyone has the right to live with dignity. I am all “equal human rights” for LGBT community and to not treat them like some inferior or second-class citizens. They are much humans as anyone and do not deserve any less respect than anyone else. Therefore, an equal human approach must be adopted by the moral keepers of our society and by the law of our land in this regard.