The ‘quack, quack’ a sound emanated by ducks and slogans chanted by members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, rent the air at Azad Maidan yesterday evening. A group of community members marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17, with protests against doctors who make fat sums professing cures to homosexuality through a variety of therapies.
(From left) Sushant Divgikar, Richa Vashista, Pallav Patankar and Ashok Row Kavi at the Press Club. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The mascot for the event was a person dressed as a duck called, ‘Mr. Quack’ complete with stethoscope around his neck, symbolic of the docs they call quacks. Mumbai’s Humsafar Trust, which works for the LGBT community lead the awareness programme. Pallav Patankar from Humsafar said, “There are many doctors both allopathic as well as ayurvedic, who claim that they can ‘cure’ LGBT people. There is a lot of exploitation and mental harassment that happens in the process. The time is apt to spread the message to the common man, that gay people are perfectly normal and do not need a cure.”
Humsafar Trust and LGBT community members at Azad Maidan with Mr Quack
The LGBT community released documents by the Indian Psychiatric Society and the World Psychiatric Association citing that that homosexuality is not an abnormality. They distributed leaflets to people near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and on the Azad Maidan road towards Cama Hospital.
Slogans like ‘Na sharam na laaj, karta hai fraud ilaj. Babaji ka tulu no more banaoing oolu’, Bech raha Patanjali phel raha jhoot, jaan lo sare, ye nahi koi bimari. Ramdev Baba, Quack, quack’ (The yoga guru has claimed he will cure homosexuals if they come to his ashram).
Sanket Veronica, who was at the event, shared his story. “When I came out as gay, my family thought it was black magic so I was taken to a doctor. The doctor even said he could treat me. I am still gay, without treatment I am much happier. We need to be treated as humans.”
Humsafar’s clinical psychologist, Richa Vashista added, “I sit from 12 noon to 8 pm to counsel patients from the community who have been taken to quacks for treatment. I try to get them out of the depression they suffer because of lack of acceptance.”
Dicky B, another community member said. “It is easy to laugh at someone because he is gay. This way stigma increases and doctors who propagate false treatments, have more reason to make money at the cost of innocents.”
Shruta Rawat from Humsafar, “It is not homosexuality but homophobia that needs to be treated.”
Anand Yadav, a teacher who lives at Thane read the pamphlet and said, “This is a good initiative. I am becoming aware of some lesser known aspects of homosexuality. In my family it is a taboo, but I know many gays. I will do my best to spread the awareness that being gay is not a disease.”
Yet, looking at protests there were also those who claimed that LGBT rights were being given more importance than water problems. Sudha Handa, a clerk from Mulund who was at Azad Maidan yesterday said, “People living near Tansa Lake have been protesting since May 14 at Azad Maidan, but no one bothered to help them. Now these gay people have a problem and everyone is here to cover their issues,” she said angrily.