Activist demands apology from Bengal Education Minister over “Lesbianism is against Bengal’s culture” remark

Kolkata: When a group of girls at Kamala Girls High School were made to sign a confession letter stating that they are lesbian, what the school’s headmistress did out of prejudice to teach the students a lesson, which many believe is in vendetta, has now snowballed into a bigger controversy.

Bengal’s Education Minister, Partha Chatterjee, who has yet to take any action with regards to the school controversy, jumping in to make statements like, “Won’t tolerate lesbianism in school”, “It is against Bengal’s culture,” has further hurt the sentiments of the queers or the LGBT community in Bengal.

Malobika, co-founder of Sappho for Equality — The Activist Forum for Lesbian, Bisexuals and Transman Rights, while speaking to eNewsroom said, “What the Education Minister has said is simply appalling. He needs to apologise for the statement and withdraw it.” A visibly upset Malobika added, “A party which criticizes the central government for dictating what to eat and what to wear is definitely not expected to practice the same back home. In making such a statement, Trinamool (TMC) too has joined the leagues of those, who have been on a rampage in Khajuraho, mutilating the breasts of the carved statues, so that they fit the perceived norm of sexuality.”

She then added, “Tell me is this the culture of Bengal? A culture, where freedom of expression and right to choice is curbed or imposing a certain ideology, definitely is not that of Bengal.”

Malobika, while talking from an undisclosed location, where she was attending a Lesbian, Bisexual and Transman (LBT) meet, said, “We are very much disappointed with the present government about their homophobic comment. When Mamata Banerjee came into power and called for the Badla noi, Bodol (not revenge, but change) march, the queers actively participated in it, precisely because we felt that the present government wouldn’t just keep shut about a section of the society as if they don’t exist. During the CPIM regime, the government just kept shut about our existence. They never criticized us but they also didn’t acknowledge our presence. It was very frustrating for us, to function or set up organizations for activism. So, we were not expecting this kind of a comment from one of Mamata’s minister.”

She then went on to add, “At the moment we are busy with the bi-annual meet, where we will be discussing this issue in depth. We are supposed to come up with a plan on how to make this issue a national debate, for, at a time when the Apex Court has decriminalized homosexuality, we can’t just forget this comment or let it go.”

During the interaction, she made it clear that she on behalf of Sappho would be writing to the CM and education minister, demanding an apology among other things.

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