Filmmaker Onir’s session on LGBTQ issues at Bhopal literature festival cancelled
A member of the organising team said that ‘government sources’ did not want him to be present at the event as it could lead to security problems.
The Bhopal Literature and Art Festival on Friday cancelled a talk on LGBTQ issues by national award-winning filmmaker Onir, citing security reasons, reported PTI.
The three-day festival began at Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal on Friday. Onir’s session was titled “Making Literature LGBTQ Neutral” and transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam was his co-panelist.
The filmmaker had made his debut with My Brother Nikhil in 2005 by exploring the subject of homosexuality and the stigma associated with HIV AIDS. His 2010 anthology I Am won two national awards.
Last year, the Union defence ministry had refused to grant a no objection certificate to another movie of his because it showed a romantic relationship between a soldier in the Indian Army and a Kashmiri boy.
After he was dropped as a speaker at the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival, Onir wrote on Twitter that he is shocked and sad about the development. “Apparently there was a group threatening protest and violence and the police told the organisers that they cannot guarantee my safety,” he said. “So they cancelled the event. Let me process this.”
Writer-journalist Abhilash Khandekar, who is also a member of the organising committee, told PTI that “government sources” did not want Onir to be present at the festival as it could lead to security issues.
“We respect freedom of speech,” Khandekar told the news agency. “Therefore, we had invited Onir to the BLF. Even RSS [Rashtriya Swayamwewak Sangh] chief Mohan Bhagwat has recently spoken on the LGBTQ issue.”
On January 9, Bhagwat had said that members of the LGBTQ community and transgender people have the same right to live as others.
In an interview with the Organiser, the English language mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, he had said that members of the LGBTQ community deserve to have their own private and social space.