A panel discussion on queer rights led by filmmaker Onir at the ongoing Bhopal Literature and Art Festival was cancelle on Friday because the organisers “couldn’t ensure the safety of the filmmaker.”
The fifth edition of the three-day Bhopal Literature and Art Festival began at Bharat Bhavan in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal on Friday. Onir’s session that got dropped was on ‘Making Literature LGBTQ Neutral’ with transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam as co-panelist.
The organisers said said that they had to cancel Onir’s event to ensure his safety. “All I can say is that we were not confident of ensuring his safety,” said Sulakshna Choudhry of the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival. The organisers later clarified that they held a session on inclusiveness with Subramaniam instead.
Onir, whose debut film My Brother Nikhil (2005) is considered to be an important landmark in the LGBTQIA movement in India, took to social media to express his dismay. “Shocked and Sad that an event I was really looking forward to speaking at had to drop me. Apparently there was a group threatening protest and violence and the police told the organisers that they cannot guarantee my safety. So they cancelled the event. Let me process this…” he said in a Twitter post.
he mentioned that the incident has left him confused. “I don’t even know if they have issues with me or the topic of discussion.