Metro Weekly

‘Holy city’ protests ’embarrassing, offensive’ GAY airport code

Gaya in India wants the IATA to change its "inappropriate" GAY airport code to YAG

gay, airport, code, india
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

A “holy city” in India is demanding that its GAY airport code be changed to something less “inappropriate.”

Lawmakers in Gaya, a city in northeastern India, are pressuring the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to change the three-letter code assigned to Gaya Airport, the Economic Times reports.

Last year, a parliamentary committee launched a campaign to change the GAY code, pointing to Gaya’s status as a “holy city” for Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist pilgrims. As an alternative, it suggested the code be changed to YAG.

But the committee’s demands failed to take hold with IATA, which is in charge of assigning the codes. The three-letter codes, which are visible on baggage tags, are used to identify airports across the globe. The codes are typically permanent, with changes usually only granted in cases where safety is concerned.

In an updated report tabled by the Committee on Public Undertakings last week, lawmakers branded the GAY code “inappropriate, unsuitable, offensive and embarrassing.”

Lawmakers urged the Indian government to “make all effort to take up the matter with the IATA and concerned organization as the issue involves inappropriate code naming of an airport of a holy city of our country” and push IATA to change the GAY code to YAG.

The report also said that Air India, India’s flag carrier airline and a member of IATA, had been raising the GAY code issue with the organization.

However, India’s civil aviation ministry told lawmakers that Gaya’s GAY code “has been in use since operationalization of Gaya airstrip” and reiterated IATA’s position that codes typically aren’t changed without a valid safety concern.

“Without a justifiable reason primarily concerning air safety, IATA has expressed its inability to change the IATA code of Gaya airport,” the ministry said.

LGBTQ rights advocate Indrajeet Ghorpade told Vice World News that attempts to change the GAY airport code are “shameful.”

“The parliamentary panel desperately wants to change Gaya Airport’s code…because it feels that GAY is embarrassing, offensive and inappropriate,” Ghorpade said. “This reflects the insecurities of the parliamentarians, who still associate ‘gay’ with something to be ashamed of or disgusted about.”

Ghorpade called the request to change the code an “international embarrassment.”

“What are we telling the world? [That] India is about everyone’s support and everyone’s development but ‘GAY Airport – Oh my God, ew?’” Ghorpade said.

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