Kunal Ghosh’s ‘homosexuality’ jibe at Suvendu Adhikari offends queer activists

Politics in West Bengal seems to be taking a nasty turn, even stooping to personal abuse including questioning one’s sexual orientation, following leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari’s refusal to be handled by women police personnel during BJP’s protest march to state secretariat Nabanna on Tuesday.

Ever since a clip of Adhikari’s comment to a lady police officer — “Do not touch my body. You are female and I am male” — went viral on social media, Trinamool Congress leaders have been using the statement to attack Adhikari on the issue of his sexuality.

First, Trinamool national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee said on Wednesday that probably the leader of opposition has a ‘fascination towards men’.

And on Thursday, Trinamool spokesman Kunal Ghosh launched an unprecedented personal attack against Adhikari without naming him, but making it amply clear as to who he was hinting at.

“One leader, though I am not naming him and not meaning Suvendu, is a homosexual and pervert. He tried to approach one of his bodyguards with his perverse sexual advances. Later, that bodyguard was killed and the case was passed as a suicide. The police investigation in the matter is stuck in the court. But we have instructed the police to ensure that the family of the bodyguard gets justice,” Ghosh said.

Reacting to Ghosh’s remarks, Adhikari said that it is below his dignity to respond to such comments from a “paid servant” of a “nephew” (Abhishek Banerjee is the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee), adding that Ghosh was even imprisoned for around three years because of his alleged involvement in the Saradha chit fund scam.

“I hate to reply to a gutter material who was imprisoned for three years,” Adhikari said.

Bengal BJP President Sukanta Majumdar said that such comments show the pathetic cultural background of Ghosh.

Meanwhile, queer activists in the city and legal brains have taken strong objection to the comments of Ghosh, where he linked ‘homosexuality’ with ‘perversion’.

“Ghosh should think twice before making such derogatory comments linking an entire community. I do not want to get into the political nitty-gritty of the matter. How can he link homosexuality with perversion, especially when the Supreme Court has partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalising same-sex relationship between consenting adults,” asked senior counsel of the Calcutta High Court, Kaushik Gupta.

Pawan Dhall, the founding trustee of Varta Trust, which runs a pan-India Covid-19 service locator dedicated to the people from the queer community, told IANS that such homophobic comments are bound to create doubts about Kunal Ghosh’s level of education.

“He is fighting a political battle and, in that process, he is making such derogatory personal comments, which not only hurt the person he is attacking, but also the sentiment of the entire queer community. He should have done some homework about the changes in social fabric which are taking place all around us. I think by making such comments, he is damaging the image of the party which he represents,” Dhall said.

Tirthankar Guha, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at KPC Medical College & Hospital, told IANS that just as a woman protester has the right to refuse being handled by a male police officer, a male protester too has the right to refuse being handled by a woman police officer.

“So, on this point, my entire support goes to Suvendu Adhikari, despite the fact that I do not subscribe to his political beliefs. Secondly, as regards Kunal Ghosh’s homophobic comments, I feel that as a spokesman of a political party, before making any comment, Ghosh should introspect whether his remarks will hurt the sentiments of an entire community,” Guha said.

According to city-based queer rights activist Tracy Shivangee Sardar, Ghosh should not forget that many of the voters who vote for the party he represents are from the queer community.

“So, he should better be careful while chosing words next time or he will damage the prospects of his own party, as people from not just the queer community, but anyone with minimum sense and sensibility will stay away from his party if repeats such words,” Sardar said.

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