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Explained | The ban on conversion therapy for the LGBTQIA+ community

What is the directive from the National Medical Commission to the State Medical Boards? Why is therapy considered dangerous?

What is the directive from the National Medical Commission to the State Medical Boards? Why is therapy considered dangerous?

The story so far: The National Medical Commission (NMC), India’s top medical professional regulatory body, has written to all state medical boards, banning conversion therapy and calling it “malpractice”. In a letter dated Aug. 25, he also authorized state bodies to take disciplinary action against medical professionals who violate the directive. The letter said the NMC was following a directive from the Madras High Court to issue an official notification listing conversion therapy as misconduct, under the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2002.

What is conversion therapy? What are the risks ?

Conversion or reparative therapy is an intervention aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity through the use of psychiatric treatment, drugs, exorcism and even violence, in the purpose of making the individual heterosexual. The conversion therapy umbrella also includes efforts to change the core identity of young people whose gender identity is incongruous with their sexual anatomy. Often therapy is offered by charlatans with little expertise in dealing with the problem. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), conversion therapy interventions are provided under the false premise that homosexuality and diverse gender identities are pathological. “They are not; the absence of pathology means there is no need for conversion or any other similar intervention. Also, according to AACAP and other health experts, conversion therapy poses the risk of causing or worsening mental health problems, such as anxiety, stress and drug use, which sometimes even lead to suicide.

What is the role of the Madras High Court in the ban?

On June 7, 2021, Judge N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court issued a landmark decision on a case he was hearing regarding the ordeal of a same-sex couple who sought police protection from their parents. Pending adequate legislation that is more protective of the community, Justice Venkatesh has issued a series of interim guidelines for police, activists, Union and State Welfare Departments and National Medical Commission to “ensure their safety and security to lead a life chosen by them. The decision prohibited any attempt to medically “cure” or change the sexual orientation of LGBTQIA+ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or any other orientation). He urged the authorities to take action against the “[s] engaging in any form or method of conversion therapy,” which could include revocation of medical license. On July 8, 2022, the court issued an order to the National Medical Commission directing it to “issue the necessary official notice listing ‘conversion therapy’ as malpractice.” The NMC issued the directive to state medical boards on August 25.

What were some of the other guidelines issued by the court?

In its 2021 verdict, the Madras High Court ordered police, for example, to close complaints about missing persons, “without subjecting them to harassment”, if they found after investigation that the parties were consenting adults. belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. The court asked the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to draw up a list of NGOs and other groups that could deal with the problems faced by the community, and granted it eight weeks from the date of the prescription. Last March, the court arrested the ministry for failing to draw up an exhaustive list. The court said the community should receive legal assistance from the District Legal Services Authority in coordination with law enforcement. In requiring the agencies to follow the Transgender People (Protection of Rights) Rules 2020 and the Transgender People (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, in letter and spirit, the tribunal said it was imperative to organize awareness programs for a total effort. to understand the community and its needs.

How can schools, colleges and healthcare professionals help?

Experts say schools and colleges need to make curriculum changes for a better understanding of the community. As recently as 2018, medical books labeled homosexuality and lesbianism as “perversion”. People of different sexual orientation or gender identity often tell harrowing stories of bullying, discrimination, stigma and ostracism. Gender-neutral toilets should be mandatory in educational institutions and other places. Parents also need to be made aware, because the first source of misunderstanding and abuse often begins at home, with adolescents being forced to opt for “conversion” therapies. Medical professionals stress that even adults opting for gender reassignment surgeries should get proper advice, such as pre- and post-surgery therapy; for an ordinary citizen, the cost can also be prohibitive.

THE ESSENTIAL

The National Medical Commission (NMC) has written to all state medical boards, banning conversion therapy and calling it “malpractice.”

In 2021, Judge N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court issued a series of interim guidelines for the Police, Activists, Union and State Welfare Departments and the National Medical Commission, regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, to “ensure their safety and security”. lead a life chosen by them.

Parents also need to be made aware, because the first point of abuse often begins at home, with adolescents being forced to opt for “conversion” therapies.