At a time when the question of gay rights has become the subject of public debates across India, the West Bengal education minister has come out against homosexuality in schools.

Partha Chatterjee stoked a controversy Wednesday when he said that Bengali culture does not endorse or tolerate lesbianism in schools. Speaking of the recent incident when a school in Kolkata branded girls as lesbians, the minister claimed that lesbianism is 'against our ethos' and hence he was against endorsing the idea of homosexuality in schools.

Speaking of the Kamala Girls High School, which had branded 10 students as lesbians, Chatterjee said: "If it's a personal matter, it should be taken up outside of school. You can't inculcate your personal ideas in the school. It can influence others," Quint reported. 

Chatterjee said that the school authorities should take the necessary action if the girls are found 'guilty' for their sexuality. He added that the girls should not be indulging in such 'indecent' behavior.

The incident happened March 8 when 10 girls from Kamala Girls School in South Kolkata were forced to admit in writing that they were lesbians.

partha chatterjee
West Bengal's education minister Partha ChatterjeeIANS

"Some students had complained against 10 students of indulging in such behavior," the acting headmistress was quoted as saying by IANS. "We called those students and they admitted it. Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, I asked them to admit it in writing. I have got written admissions from all 10 students." 

The allegations leveled against the 10 students caused quite an uproar amid the parents and guardians of the students. They staged a protest outside the school Monday and confronted the headmistress on the incident.

"Today, we called the guardians to apprise them of the issue. Our aim was to discuss the matter with them so that we can bring these girls on the right course through efforts both at home and in school," the headmistress told IANS.

However, she later said that the issue was blown out of proportion and the school only wanted to notify the parents about the students involving in mischief. The headmistress claimed that the parents misinterpreted the message and that now all the issues have been resolved, the Indian Express reported. 

This is not the first time that schools have condemned homosexuality among students. Last December, a teenager was brutally thrashed by her roommates and the hostel warden of a convent school in Karnataka over a rumor that she was a lesbian. The warden, a nun, stuffed chilli powder in the girl's mouth for 'treading a wrong path which was against God's will'.