‘All political parties’ mindset on alternate sexuality ancient’

New Delhi, April 24 (Inditop) Terming as ancient the mindset of all political parties on alternate sexuality and sex education, Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed Friday said that despite efforts to protect the rights of sexual minorities, there has been little progress at the policy making level.

“When we were drafting the 11th Five Year Plan, we included two chapters on state protection for sexual minorities under the aegis of the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. However, it was not included in the final draft,” Hameed said at a conference on alternate sexuality in the capital.

“At the school level, sex education is very necessary. But a Lok Sabha sub committee – across all political parties – gave a verdict against it. When it comes to alternate sexuality and sex education, the mindset of all political parties is ancient,” she said.

The last session of a series of People’s Panchayats on resisting stigma and homophobia across various Indian cities like Bangalore and Pune, Friday’s conference was held at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) auditorium here. The event saw a number of activists, people from the gay community and HIV positive network come together and talk on the issue.

Ashok Kavi, an activist and founder of the NGO Humsafar, which works for the homosexual community, said: “According to one of our surveys, boys have their first sexual encounter between the age of eight to 10. Keeping such facts in mind, sex education in schools is extremely important because they teach a child about himself or herself and how to safeguard themselves against all harm.”

Said Srivath, a dentist by profession who also associates himself with a number of NGOs working on issues of HIV and homosexuality: “There should be outreach programmes in schools and colleges so that a child who is confused about his or her sexuality can speak to a counsellor and take charge of his or her life.”

“In Chennai, where I am based, we are planning such outreach programmes and I am sure that it will work out,” he added.

Although change can be brought about only when the process starts at the individual level, the panel agreed that it’s time political parties take up the issue of protecting the rights of sexual minorities.

“Political parties across the spectrum must be compelled to state their position on protecting the rights of sexual minorities. You can’t always ignore such important issues,” Hameed said.