Curing the myths

May 16, 2016, 07:56 IST | Dipanjan Sinha

Humasafar Trust organises a campaign to fight quacks claiming to cure homosexuality

"It is important that obvious things are stated, so that next time someone flings the rubbish that homosexuality is a disease, we have enough support from medical voices in India," says Pallav Patankar, director of programmes, Humasafar Trust, which is spearheading a campaign against misinformation about 'curing homosexuality'.

Started earlier this month, the campaign titled Queers against Quacks, will be on till tomorrow, the Intern-ational Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, with a rally at Azad Maidan (4.30 pm onwards). The team will use various platforms including social media, to make people aware that being gay is neither a disorder nor a disease.

Pallav Patankar
Pallav Patankar

"When qualified doctors and some quacks claim that they have a cure, families tend to force individuals to try out the measures. Given the kind of social pressure that is still prevalent, people often succumb," says Patankar.

Quacks use hormone therapy, where they claim that homosexuality is a result of hormonal imbalance. Aversion therapy, which uses shock treatment to kill attraction for the same sex, is also common. Hypnotism is also used as a tool for cure.

"The World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental health disorder in 1992. It is appalling that some doctors here are not updated and still consider it a mental problem. The same informed people even point out that homosexuals are often depressed and commit suicide, completely missing the point that this is because of the stigma and discrimination they face in society," he says.

Gay pride parade 2016 which started in August Kranti Maidan. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Gay pride parade 2016 which started in August Kranti Maidan. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Richa Vashisth, clinical psychologist and head counsellor at Humsafar, says that she has come across cases of quacks, even in Mumbai, but cannot do much against them as she has to protect the privacy of clients. "Every week, I come across people, who are forced by their families to undergo such treatment. A person, who has undergone shock treatment, often needs counselling to overcome the pain of their own family treating them this way," she says.

Patankar adds that to follow up the campaign, they will approach the Indian Medical Association to come out with a statement on the issue and also approach the health ministry. "We may even file a PIL," he signs off.

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