Indian education minister says there are no lesbians in his schools
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”.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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“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?
“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.