File pic: LGBT activists protest
The Goa government is planning centres to "cure" homosexuals and make them "normal", a minister, Ramesh Tawadkar, has said in comments that have been received with outrage and disbelief.
"We will make LGBT (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) youth normal. We will have a centre for them...like Alcoholics Anonymous centres. We will train them and give them medicines too," said Mr Tawadkar, who is Sports and Youth minister in the state's BJP-led government.
The minister was elaborating what is part of the government's policy report on youth. The document lists LGBT community among stigmatised groups that need focused attention.
"As 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 of the LGBT community so that their problems could be specifically addressed," he said.
Mr Tawadkar's remarks were likened to Yoga teacher Ramdev's controversial statement in the past that homosexuality is a "disease" that can be cured by yoga.
In largely conservative India, the homosexual community is still battling lack of awareness and prejudice, which has been compounded by a colonial era law that makes gay sex a crime. In a severe blow to the cause, the Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2013.
Activists say the Goa minister has taken ignorance to a new level as he talks about government-run centres which will have "training, treatment and medicines" to cure LGBT persons.
"There has to be someone from the BJP who speaks up on this...when you are silent about someone making such an irresponsible statement, you are actually admitting...," said Harish Iyer, gay rights activist.