Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar sparked a controversy on Monday, when he told students at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University that homosexuality is a “tendency”.
When a student asked him how he should deal with ill-treatment by his loved ones over his sexual orientation, Ravi Shankar was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, “You treat yourself better, doesn’t matter how others treat you. You don’t think you are sick or something’s wrong with you.”
He then added, “This is your tendency now. Just acknowledge it and accept it, and know that this tendency is not a permanent thing. It may change.”
Ravi Shankar’s comments are especially surprising because in 2013, he had come out in defence of homosexuality, saying it’s not a crime and nobody should face discrimination based on their sexual preferences. He even said it has “never been a crime” as per Hinduism.
Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu & Shiva). #Sec377
— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) December 11, 2013
Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd. — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) December 11, 2013
But Ravi Shankar isn’t the first Indian spiritual leader to denounce homosexuality. In 2013, yoga guru Baba Ramdev had said that homosexuality is “unnatural”, and had even claimed that yoga can “cure” it. “I invite the gay community to my yoga ashram and I guarantee to cure them of homosexuality,” he had said.
Even political leaders weren’t to be outdone. BJP’s Subramanian Swamy had said in the same year that homosexuals need to go to a hospital because it is a “mental disorder”. In 2015, he had said, “Homos are genetically handicapped.”
In 2011, then health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had termed homosexuality as a “disease” and referred to men having sex with men as an “unnatural” Western phenomenon.
With inputs from agencies