The filmmaker Onir’s talk on gay rights at the Bhopal literature festival is ‘cancelled’ due to a ‘threat of protest.

On Friday, a panel discussion on queer rights hosted by director Onir at the ongoing Bhopal Literature and Art Festival was “cancelled” because festival organisers “could not guarantee the filmmaker’s safety.”

Friday marked the beginning of the fifth edition of the three-day Bhopal Literature and Art Festival at Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Onir’s cancelled session was titled “Making Literature LGBTQ-Neutral” and featured transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam.

The festival organisers informed The Deccan Era that they had to cancel Onir’s performance to secure his safety. The Bhopal Literature and Art Festival’s Sulakshna Choudhry stated, “All I can say is that we lacked confidence in securing his safety.” Later, the organisers stated that Subramaniam instead led a discussion on inclusion.

Or, whose debut film My Brother Nikhil (2005) is regarded as a significant milestone in the LGBTQIA movement in India, resorted to social media to voice his disappointment. “I am shocked and disappointed that an event I was looking forward to speaking at had to cancel my participation. Evidently, a group threatened violence and protest, and the police informed the event organisers that they could not ensure my safety. Therefore cancelled the event. Let me analyse this…,” he wrote on Twitter.

He explained to the Deccan Era that the encounter had left him bewildered. “I don’t know if they have a problem with me or the discussion topic.” “It’s absurd that now, after the drafting of Section 377 and when the Supreme Court discusses the validity of same-sex weddings, people have a problem with a panel discussion on LGBTQIA issues,” said Onir.

Kalki Subramaniam told The Deccan Era, “It was a pleasure to attend the occasion. The crowd was exceptionally kind and welcoming. However, I did support Onir, who could not participate in the event. The programme’s theme was changed to diversity and health at the last minute. Still, I told the organisers that I would only speak on diversity and inclusion because health is not my area of expertise.

Choudhry confirmed this as well. “Yes, we altered the name of the Onir event because he could not attend,” she confirmed.

Additionally, Onir stated that this was the first time something like this had occurred to him. “I have never been personally threatened.” I am pretty vocal about my opinions. Thus I may be a target. On Twitter, however, numerous random identities have expressed their delight over the cancellation of my event. “They believe such subjects’ should not be presented at such a renowned event,” he explained.


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Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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