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Millennium Post

Something is rotten in Indian psychiatry

After the judiciary, it seems psychiatry has become the bastion of the homophobe. If reports on the Indian Psychiatric Society’s (IPS) former president dubbing homosexuality as ‘unnatural’ are correct, then we have an enormous problem to deal with. In the post-377 Supreme Court ruling despair, while the LGBT community, social and human rights activists are doing their best to restart the process, and while the government is mulling the petition to invalidate the constitutionality of the 153-year-old law that deems homosexuality a crime under the Indian Penal Code, no one expected a prominent member of Indian Psychiatric sciences to come up with this regressive and discriminatory a statement. It is appalling that a scientific fraternity is still not up in arms protesting against this decidedly homophobic statement from a figurehead, whose very credibility as a psychiatrist has now been called into question. Indira Sharma’s alleged words, saying homosexuals talk about sex openly causing discomfort among heterosexuals who do not bring it up in public since sex and sexuality are private matters, are not only extremely backward and deplorable, they belie the lightyears in medical and psychiatric advancements that have been traversed globally, thereby attesting to the problematic issue Indian scientific organisations doing no research and development to stay at par with international standards.

Given that IPS in a 2009 plea had written to media and newspapers supporting the Delhi high court ruling reading down section 377, Sharma’s alleged words are a huge setback. They not only point towards the everyday ordinary discrimination and homophobia raging through our majoritarian streets, they also attest to the lack of compassion in the mental health sector. The inherent biases within our institutions that pit heterosexuality  against an ‘unnatural’ homosexuality get exposed when elected representatives from scientific community become the instrument of perpetuating the wrongs.
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