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Indian education minister says there are no lesbians in his schools

Josh Jackman March 15, 2018

(Facebook/Partha Chatterjee)

An Indian education minister has said there are no lesbians in his schools, because that would be “against the ethos” of his state.

West Bengal has a population of more than 90 million, but minister Partha Chatterjee said that there were zero lesbians in the school system.

He made the comments after 10 students in the state capital of Kolkata were reportedly forced to sign a letter admitting they were lesbians as a punishment for their “intense friendships”.

India's Trinamool Congress Party leader Partha Chatterjee (C) reacts as he is escorted out of the Writers Building, the state administrative headquarters, after arrested by police in Kolkata on October 16, 2009. Chatterjee, who is the opposition leader in the West Bengal state assembly, staged a demonstration in front Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhaterjee's office demanding the chief minister's arrest for the alleged arrest of innocent people. AFP PHOTO/Deshakalyan CHOWDHURY (Photo credit should read DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Chatterjee, who is also the state’s science minister, said he had “never” heard of lesbians in West Bengal schools, according to Firstpost.

“If such an incident had indeed happened,” he added, “it would be against the ethos of our state.

“I will ascertain from the school management what prompted them to secure the written admission from the students.”

(Facebook/Partha Chatterjee)

But he emphasised that authorities at Kamala Girls’ High School were right to punish the girls if they were found “guilty” of “indecent” behaviour.

Chatterjee, 61, added: “It is a problem at the school level. Young teenagers should not explore sexuality among themselves.

“That is not the culture of Bengal.”

India's Trinamool Congress Party leader Partha Chatterjee (C) reacts as he is escorted out of the Writers Building, the state administrative headquarters, after arrested by police in Kolkata on October 16, 2009. Chatterjee, who is the opposition leader in the West Bengal state assembly, staged a demonstration in front Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhaterjee's office demanding the chief minister's arrest for the alleged arrest of innocent people. AFP PHOTO/Deshakalyan CHOWDHURY (Photo credit should read DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Sikha Sarkar, acting headmistress at the high school, said: “We called those students and they admitted it.

“Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, I asked them to admit it in writing. I have got written admissions from all 10 students.

“Today we called the guardians to apprise them of the issue. Our aim was to discuss the matter with them so that we can bring these girls on the right course through efforts both at home and in school,” she added.

(Facebook/Partha Chatterjee)

One of the girl’s guardians reacted furiously, stating that “if two persons hold hands, or put an arm on each other shoulders, that does not mean they are lesbians.”

“What happened with those girls is abhorrent,” said Malobika, the co-founder of Sappho for Equality.

“Not only were they singled out on the basis of a few complaints, which could very well have been pranks, I don’t understand what purpose did the whole exercise serve?

Indian LGBT rights activists take part in the Bengaluru Gay Pride March 2017 in Bangalore on November 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Manjunath KIRAN        (Photo credit should read MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“Are students in co-ed schools asked to write a confession about their heterosexuality when they are seen spending time together?”

Earlier this year, a coalition of churches in India called for the country to end its ban on homosexuality.

India’s Supreme Court is considering overturning a colonial-era law that criminalises homosexual acts.

More: Asia, Education, India, India, lesbian, Partha Chatterjee, west bengal

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