Thursday, 30 January 2014

POPL 2015 is in India, and I think that is a bad idea

POPL, one of the most important scientific conferences in the field of programming languages, will be held in Mumbai, India, in 2015. I find this rather unfortunate. As a SIGPLAN event, POPL ought to follow the SIGPLAN Conference Anti-Harassment Policy. Quoting from the policy: "Harassment in any form, including but not limited to harassment based on (...) sexual orientation (...) will not be tolerated". Unfortunately, India just recently reinstated a ban on gay sex, and rejected a petition for reconsidering its decision. The law dates from the period of the British rule of India, and is not unlike the British law that lead to the death of Alan Turing. This is a worrying development, and sends a clear message of intolerance and harassment to local or visiting homosexuals.
Personally, I do not feel welcome or even safe in India, and consequently will not attend POPL 2015. I find it regrettable that the POPL Steering Committee failed to keep to its own anti-harassment policy when choosing a venue for POPL 2015.


  1. Have you written the same to every one on the committee?

  2. I feel for you, and I wish things were better.

    The number of *quality* conferences in India is really low and I am happy to see POPL coming to India. Contrary to popular picture, India is not that bad!

    Let me know if you change your mind and decide to come here. You can reach out to me at @jaseemabid for any help.

    PS: I'm from India if that was not obvious.

  3. Hello Jaseem. I understand that this is a good development for India, but I still don't think it is a good development for POPL. The "popular picture" of India is not really what I'm concerned about; I'm talking about a discriminatory law being reinstated without any political or popular backlash. It sends a clear message that the country does not welcome such minorities.