Conversion Trials of Homosexuals In India

Identity is an expression through which a person is recognized. Before wealth, before anything that matters, the identity is described by a person’s gender. A poor person, a homeless person has an identity whether it is male or female. In India we have laws even for animals but there exists a section of the society which is abandoned socially and was not recognized before a year ago. Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 was decriminalized and it was a big relief for LGBTQIA+ community. As of now they can be with someone who they want to be with but it is not decriminalized as a whole. A person belonging to LGBTQIA+ community still cannot marry their partner.

The question here arises that if the Constitution itself has a preamble which includes the word liberty then if someone if expressing themselves for who they are then why has the society not considered them as an individual with different preferences? Are the fundamental rights gender specific? Article 21 of the Constitution provides the right to live a dignified life but the case with homosexuals is different. Dignity is a far-reaching concept; they are not even considered human. Oppression is such a disastrous tool that one forgets the concept of equality and tries to control someone’s life. Humans have already controlled animals in one way or another and treat them in a very cruel manner just because they cannot say anything and the same thing is done with a community i.e. LGBTQIA+ by not even considering them, forget about the basic rights. This is because the social and legal framework is slow to accept and take action on such issues. Even if there exists a law even then this situation is going to remain same until and unless the society is not ready to take an initiative for a change, till then the crimes against this community will continue to prevail in this country and one such heinous crime is the Conversion Trials of Homosexuals.

Do Conversion Therapies Actually Work?

NO! Conversion therapy is based on the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness and it can be cured. It is a harmful process with no results as homosexuality is not a disease to be cured. Several organizations have condemned the fact that homosexuality is a kind of mental illness and states that homosexuality identities are a normal variant of human nature.

 In Supreme court’s NALSA judgement, it was stated that “No person may be forced to undergo any form of medical or psychological treatment, procedure, testing, or be confined to a medical facility, based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Notwithstanding any classifications to the contrary, a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not, in and of themselves, medical conditions and are not to be treated, cured or suppressed.”[1]

Following this, many Mental Health Organizations have published statements against ‘conversion therapy’;

  1. The Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (AICP) stated that ‘conversion therapy’ is dangerously harmful and discredited. AICP does not approve of any form of ‘conversion therapy’ and advices its members to not follow practices which negatively impact the well-being individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+”
  2. The Association of Psychiatric Social Work Professionals (APSWP) stated that” it condemns in the strongest terms any form of ‘conversion treatments’ aimed at ‘curing’ sexual orientation or gender identities of LGBTQ persons. Psychiatric Social Work Professionals must incorporate affirmative mental health care approaches, include these in training and curriculum, conduct research with involvement of LGBTQ individuals to develop evidence-based affirmative practice models and advocate for rights of LGBTQ clients within the mental health systems in India”.
  3. Centre of Mental Health Law and Policy stated that “the entire spectrum of sexual orientations and genders is a representative of human diversity and expression. There is nothing to cure in any person who identifies with any sexual orientation or gender”.

What leads to such a measure?

Homophobia is the dislike or prejudice against homosexual people. Now this hate and dislike arises from a mindset who are not ready to accept an existence which is different from theirs and this mindset has no gender, it is a mixture of both male and female. The hypocrite society and their take on homosexual people, attacking their identity in different ways and calling it a trivial matter in order to normalize it is a questionable issue. Not only homosexuals, a man exhibiting feminine traits is called out by using different slurs and same is the case with women exhibiting boorish qualities. The point is, the society has prescribed a certain behaviour, appearance in which a man or a woman should behave or appear and a person acting or looking differently to this prescribed norm is called out by attacking on his/her gender and preferences. When a child is born, it is unaware of its identity, gradually when they explore themself they come to know about their preferences and when these preferences are not matched with the prescribed criteria of the gender determination, Conversion Trials comes into the picture.

“Conversion Therapy” sometimes known as “reparative therapy” is a range of dangerous and discredit practices that claim to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Natal families are not ready to accept that their child have different preferences than what is considered to be a “normal choice”. They consider their child mentally ill or brainwashed and in order to cure this self-made disease they make their child go through several heinous medical and spiritual processes in a belief that the child will become “normal” and in this process one loses their very identity and their concept of self is damanged.

The existence of social stigma and ridicule is phenomenal in its sheer magnitude and it persists in homophobic WhatsApp forwards, and in casually calling someone cruel slursEverywhere they go, they get to hear the deeply patronizing statement: “You are not normal.”[2] Despite the laws in force for homosexuals, the social harassment still persists. It is said that “Loving Is Human” and condemning a person because of who they love is inhuman. The society making fun of their lives and then very easily normalizing their cruel acts by giving several different unreasonable excuses is awful.

The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ violates fundamental rights guaranteed under part III of the constitution, as the bench of honourable judges in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India[3] held. It is also in violation of section 18(2) and 21(1) (a) of the Mental health care act, 2017. Society has a huge impact on such events, because the first thing that comes in a mind of any individual is “what society will think about it”? Families after discovering this fact that their child is homosexual, do not think about his/her wellbeing and happiness but what they think about is their pride, society, respect and many more things which they hide in the name of love towards their child. Here, one needs to understand that what should be diagnosed is thesociety and not anindividual with different preferences.

Conclusion

Acceptance is the need of the hour. There are host of arguments provided against homosexuality based on morality and religion. Justice Chandrachud in Navtej Singh Johar case stated that “what matters to judges when it comes to morality is “constitutional morality”. He further stated that “Constitutional morality requires that all the citizens need to have a closer look at, understand and imbibe the broad values of the Constitution, which are based on liberty, equality and fraternity and our ability to recognize others who are different is a sign of our own evolution. We miss the symbols of a compassionate and humane society only at our peril”. The purpose of the constitution is to transform society and once the rights of any individual are recognized cannot be taken away. What this society has taken away from homosexuals can return it through transformation and acceptance. Nothing on this planet is more painful than being abandoned by one’s own family and loved ones but people belonging to LGBTQIA+ have been bearing this pain since years just because they expressed themselves for who they are. Not getting jobs in this fast and furious world is a curse and when one does not get a job because of their gender then it puts question on the Constitution which prescribes that one should not be discriminated in the name of gender. Liberty is being free to become what one dreams for and the society needs to understand that it is their mentality which needs to be converted and not someone’s gender and identity.


[1] W.P.(Civil) No. 400 of 2012 and W.P. (Civil)No. 604 of 2013.

[2] Shraddha Chattarjee,Anjana Hareesh’s Death Reveals a Crisis in Mental Healthcare in India[Available from: https://livewire.thewire.in/gender-and-sexuality/anjana-hareeshs-death-reveals-a-crisis-in-mental-healthcare-in-india

[3] W.P.(Crl.) No.76 of 2016

Ashna Gaur from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi

Editor: Vatsala sood

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6 thoughts on “Conversion Trials of Homosexuals In India

  1. क्या मैं आपसे पूछ सकता हूं कि आपने इस विषय को क्यों चुना

    Like

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