Stop Treating Homosexuality as an Illness, Says Indian Psychiatric Society

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), June 6, 2018 | Go to article overview

Stop Treating Homosexuality as an Illness, Says Indian Psychiatric Society


Mumbai, June 6 -- For the first time, Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), country's largest body of mental health professionals, announced its official stance on homosexuality. The society has asked its members to 'stop considering homosexuality as an illness'.

In 2016, IPS set up a group to deal with issues faced by members from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community. But it is now that the organisation made an official statement on homosexuality. The announcement is important because some psychiatrists have been allegedly practising 'conversion therapies' to 'cure' their patients of homosexuality. The IPS has around 5,000 members.

Dr Ajit Bhide, IPS president, in a video uploaded on social media, said most respectable psychiatric societies have removed homosexuality from nomenclature of mental illness.

He added, "It is a step in the right direction and is backed by plenty of scientific proof. Some individuals are just not cut out to be heterosexuals and we don't need to castigate them, we don't need to punish them, we don't need to ostracise them. Mental health professionals are largely oriented to accepting this as a variation rather than an aberration of nature. Whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your sexual preference, as long as no other party is being hurt, an individual should be allowed to practice whatever he wants."

Dr Kersi Chavda, chairperson of IPS task force, which deals with emotional issues faced by members of LGBTQ community, said, "This statement is our official stand on homosexuality, that its not a disease and should not treated like one. This is the first time we have released an official stand."

Doctors and LGBTQ activists have welcomed the statement and are hopeful that it will prevent doctors from practising 'conversion therapies' to seek to change a person's sexuality.

"This is for the first time that IPS has publically clarified its stand on homosexuality. Now, they must inform all IPS members to stop practising conversion therapies that range from brainwashing, hormonal treatments, electroconvulsive therapy and lot of religious and philosophical indoctrination," said Dr Bhooshan Shukla, a Pune-based psychiatrist, who along with eleven other colleagues aided with the petitioners to decriminalise homosexuality in 2013. …

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