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India: Mental Health Professionals Criticise Union Health Minister’s Statement on Homosexuality

8 July 2011

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Press Statement

6 July 2011

We are a group of highly qualified mental health professionals who are practicing as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and behavioural psychologists from across the country. We regret the statement made by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday where he called homosexuality a “disease”, as being “unnatural”, and a having “come from western shores”. Scientific evidence shows that homosexuality is a natural variant of human sexuality and is not a mental disorder or disease. Homosexuality as a specific diagnostic category was removed from the World Health Organisation’s ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders published in 1992, and from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV Guidelines in 1973.

In the course of our professional lives, have interacted with hundreds of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender across the country, and it is a complete misconception that homosexuality is “western”. We believe that the Delhi High Court’s 2009 judgment decriminalizing homosexuality removed a major source of stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT persons in India and was rooted in a concrete understanding of the mental and psychological harm that section 377 inflicts on LGBT persons.

The unscientific claims made by the Union Health Minister, if left unchallenged, will lead to irreparable harm to LGBT persons. We call upon Mr. Azad to retract his statement immediately.

1. Dr. K.S. Jacob, Head, Department of Psychiatry, Christian Medical College, Vellore

2. Dr. Vikram Patel, Sangath, Goa

3. Dr. Soumitra Pathare, psychiatrist, Pune

4. Dr. A.K. Kala, Clinical Director, North India Psychiatry Centre, Ludhiana

5. Dr. Debashis Chatterjee, Founder Ishwar Sankalpa and Member Indian Psychiatric Society, Kolkata

6. Dr.Kaustubh Joag, psychiatrist, Pune and Associate Member, Indian Psychiatry Society

7. Dr. Subir Kumar Hajra Chaudhuri, Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata

8. Dr. Pratap Kumar Rath, psychiatrist, Bhubaneswar

9. Sarbani Das Roy, Honorary Secretary, Ishwar Sankalpa, Kolkata

10. Jolly Laha, pschotherapist, Kolkata

11. Ratnaboli Ray, Co-founder National Alliance of Access to Justice for people with Mental Illness (NAJMI) and Founder, Managing Trustee, Anjali Mental Health Rights Organization

12. Radhika Chandiramani, clinical psychologist, Delhi