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LGBT tourism: Ramdev’s outfit, church question Goa’s move


Panaji : Hindu rightwing groups, Baba Ramdev’s outfit and the Catholic church are angry with the Goa government and tourism industry’s plan to put the state on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) tourism circuit.

Bharat Swabhiman Trust (BST) started by Baba Ramdev has said it will oppose promotion of LGBT tourism in Goa.

“Even if the government gives permission, people here will not accept it. In the last few years, the Goa government has already allowed drug trafficking, casinos and prostitution to fester, now this! We are going to lobby with people against the promotion of LGBT tourism here,” Kamlesh Bandekar, spokesperson for the BST, told IANS Wednesday.

Rajesh Korgaonkar, spokesperson for the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), said LGBT tourism would cause “damage to the rich cultural and social fabric of the state”.

“The government will be solely responsible for this. We condemn the LGBT programme and appeal to like-minded citizens of Goa to oppose this programme,” he said.

The church authorities are circumspect, blaming the Goa government’s attempt to orient tourism to cater to LGBT tourists.

“We cannot alienate these people. No one can prevent them from coming here, but why does the government need to be oriented towards them,” asked Fr Francisco Caldeira, spokesperson for the Bishop’s House in Goa.

Tourism experts have said LGBT tourism might constitute the biggest slice of India’s tourist pie in the near future, with differently-oriented couples finding tourism in India, a cheaper alternative to other European countries and a safe haven, especially after homosexuality was decriminalized following a court order.

The state tourism authority and travel and tourism groups have announced sensitisation efforts for LGBT tourism.

“It is an emerging tourism trend in Europe and has the potential to become one of the biggest segments in tourism,” tourism director Swapnil Naik has said.

Goa, known for its famous beaches, attracts nearly 2.6 million tourists annually, of which nearly half a million are foreigners.