After a Delhi court on Saturday summoned a doctor for violating the Delhi Medical Council (DMC) norms by allegedly treating homosexuality as a ‘genetic mental disorder’ and using ‘Shock Therapy’ to treat members of the LGBTQ community who came to him, the Supreme Court decriminalising Section 377 to recognise sexual and constitutional rights of the LGBTQ community members was called into question.
The incident took no time to catch fire and received aggressive criticism. Cosmetologist Dr. Anshuman Manaswi spoke to AV and regretted, “Trying to change sexual orientation is apparently illegal. As of today, there is no evidence that trying to change sexual orientation does any benefit in any way. Those who belong to the LGBTQ community can only get confused and suffocated by these attempts. But more than that, from the medical point of view, it has the propensity to harm those vulnerable people.”
“The mental block in our society that forces the parents, friends, and relatives of such people to the quacks and unethical doctors, is torturous to these people. Moreover, such therapies don’t work a bit. We must let these people live with Sexual Independence. Even in the historic times, in mythology, “Kinners (transgender)” existed and were accepted!” Dr. Manaswi added.
“Conversion therapy” is an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation using psychological or spiritual interventions and it is not recognised either by medical science or by the legislature. When a complaint was received by Girish Tyagi, Registrar and Secretary of DMC, the court passed the order. The complaint read that the accused doctor, PK Gupta, was debarred by the DMC in 2016 from practicing in Delhi and despite that, he continued to practice and was using hormonal and shock therapy to provide treatment. As per the court, Gupta was running a super specialty clinic at Karol Bagh in Delhi and was charging Rs 4,500 for 15 minutes counselling, after which he decides to go for hormonal therapy or psychological therapy.
Shammo Das, a 24-year-old homosexual who works as a Teacher and Theatre worker exclaimed, “It is not about whether homosexuality is legal or not but about mentality. We have fought long for decriminalising homosexuality and we won! Now our fight is more difficult as we have to make this society understand that this is not a crime. Otherwise, these kinds of incidents won’t stop. It’s really shameful and disheartening that these kinds of incidents are taking place even in 2018!”
The DMC took the decision after receiving a letter from Anjali Gopalan, the Executive Director of Naz Foundation in 2015. The letter informed them about a news report where some doctors upheld conversion therapy and claimed to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals. As reported, the letter also referred to another news article which said that ‘the dubious procedure included talk therapy which could lead to depression, anxiety, seizures, and suicidal tendencies’.
Endocrinologist and Diabetologist Dr. Deepak Chaturvedi explained about Sexuality being an in-depth subject which cannot be described in few lines. He said that the subject needs thorough discussion and understanding. He further simplified how Nature has given the instinct of Sex for two main purpose — Procreation and Pleasure and homosexuality does not fulfil the “procreation (reproduction)” purpose of Sex. “Nature has given all of us a sexual attraction towards opposite sex because that’s what leads to procreation (reproduction). Now, homosexuality is “non-reproductive” and hence it is “socially unacceptable”. However, being socially unacceptable doesn’t necessarily mean ‘abnormal’ or ‘a disorder’ or ‘a disease’. If reproduction is not taken into account, then consensual sexual preference is ones right and choice,” Dr. Chaturvedi interpreted.
He further said, “Describing Homosexuality as a (genetic) mental disorder is completely insane. If self-sexual gratification (masturbation) is not an abnormal disorder, then having consensual sexual gratification with the same sex also is not abnormal. Labelling homosexuality as a disease/disorder and offering its treatment should be considered equivalent to quackery and fraud.”
The court observed that the accused was prima facie found to be illegally practicing and contravening a provision of the Indian Medical Council Act which warrants a maximum of one-year jail term. It noted that ‘a person found practicing without registration, even qualified, shall be liable for action specified by the council’.
Alongside, the judiciary also looked back on the Supreme Court judgement on homosexuality that legitimised consensual sexual acts between two adults of the same sex in private. The apex court then also wished for a society that will discourage any form of discrimination and lead the nation towards a resplendent future. It also marked that any violation of fundamental rights would be interrupted by the courts.
Dr. Sudhir Patil, Care Hospital, Nagpur asserted, “It’s a social stigma! We should respect the feelings — social environment, psychiatric counselling, and to some extent hormonal therapy is helpful. However, I am against electroconvulsive therapy and major conversion modalities and moreover, it’s not evidence-based.”
Renowned Homeopathy practitioner Dr. Mukesh Batra called the incident ‘shameful’ and said, “It’s shocking! Unbelievable that in today’s science-oriented world, someone was doing this and that too, a doctor! I’m sure it’s only for profit — benefiting from others’ suffering, seems to be the name of the game.”
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