Prominent Indian psychiatrist labels homosexuality ‘unnatural’Around the World, Online Only, Top Highlights Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Speaking before the annual Indian Psychiatric Society meeting, prominent psychiatrist and last year’s president Dr. Indira Sharma labeled homosexuality ‘unnatural.’ The comment, which she reiterated on Monday, created a firestorm in a country still under attack from a major High Court decision which reinstated the ban on same-gender sex.
According to the Times of India, Sharma unapologetically decried the LGBT community. “The manner in which homosexuals have brought the talk of sex to the roads makes people uncomfortable. It’s unnatural. Our society doesn’t talk about sex. Heterosexuals don’t talk about sex. It’s a private matter,” the Banaras Hindu University teacher told the Times of India.
When asked about the speech, Sharma said her main concern was that homosexuals aren’t comfortable with their sexuality. “There are some who are comfortable, but there are many who are not. The latter should realize they can get help (from psychiatrists). Some of them may even be able to change their orientation,” Sharma said. She added that those comfortable with their orientation should be made aware that their behavior was causing a lot of uneasiness in society.
In December of 2013, the India High Court overruled a lower court which decriminalized sex between two consenting adults of the same gender. For many, the move was seen as a huge step backward for the LGBT equality in this conservative country of more than one billion people. The fact that someone from the medical community continues to promote a person’s sexual orientation as ‘unnatural’ highlights the gulf many LGBT activists feel they must cross before equality is even remotely reached.
Chennai-based Dr Siva Nambi said Sharma’s views were her own and Delhi-based Dr Avdesh Sharma maintained she hadn’t made statements against gays.
“Doctors have to understand that we can’t intervene unless a person comes to us saying he is uncomfortable with his sexual orientation,” said Nambi.
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty said, “Same-sex orientation needs to be accepted as normal. Sexual orientation has different dimensions and should be tackled compassionately. This will help many come out of the closet. Mental health professionals need to accept the differences and bring down distress.”
Palav Patankar, a spokesperson for gay rights, said, “Many doctors in India graduated when the medical curriculum hadn’t been updated. Psychiatrists need to keep abreast of social changes. Doctors should go back to books and stop doing disservice to society.”
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