Homosexuality not mental illness, disease: Indian Psychiatric Society

After the Supreme Court refused to review the decision on Section 377 of the IPC criminalising gay sex, there is some welcome news for the LGBT community in India.

The Indian Psychiatric Society has stated that homosexuality is not a mental illness or disease. The statement was issued by the country's psychiatrists after a furore was kicked up about the statements of the society's former president, Dr Indira Sharma, on homosexuality last month.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In a report which had appeared in the Times of India on January 19, Sharma had said: "The manner in which homosexuals have brought the talk of sex to the roads makes people uncomfortable. It's unnatural. Our society doesn't talk about sex. Heterosexuals don't talk about sex. It is a private matter.''

After this report, the LGBT community had taken the matter to the IPS, which had to publicly refute the statement of its past president. "Based on existing scientific evidence and good practice guidelines from the field of psychiatry, the Indian Psychiatric Society would like to state that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease,'' said the statement by IPS president Dr T V Asokan and general secretary N N Raju.

The belief that homosexuality is a mental illness that is curable is one that has persisted despite being repeatedly disproven by medical professionals and scientific studies. In countries such as Nigeria and Russia, where prejudice against homosexuality prevails, the 'disease' argument is frequently used.

In an interview on February 3 with the Times of India, Dr N N Raju, who was recently elected general secretary of the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), was non-committal about whether homosexuality was a disease. "Homosexuality is a grey area, entailing confusion and complexity, and black and white comments can't be made on it," said Raju. "...Homosexuals are not criminals, even though legally or morally they are considered wrongdoers. As of now, the IPS, consisting of around 5,000 registered psychiatrists, is working on finding out the majority opinion among psychiatrists regarding the classification and management of homosexuality."


Updated Date: Feb 07, 2014 15:21 PM

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