The Indian Psychiatry Society (IPS) said homosexuality was not a psychiatric disorder. Coming out in support of decriminalising homosexuality, the IPS said in a statement on Saturday that it recognised “same- sex sexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality much like heterosexuality and bisexuality”. “There is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered by any treatment and any such attempts may, in fact, lead to low self-esteem and stigmatisation of the person,” the society added. The IPS had, in 2017, constituted a task force on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The task force, now partially reconstituted, continues its work to endorse the stance that homosexuality “should not be considered a mental illness, much less a crime”. It also said its position was in line with that of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Classification of 7/12/2018 Homosexuality not a crime, says Indian Psychiatry Society . Diseases of the World Health Organisation which removed homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973 and 1992 respectively. In 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalised Section 377, an order that was set aside by the SC in 2013. In January, the apex court said it would revisit the constitutional validity of Section 377 and referred the matter to a constitution bench.
The Supreme Court said “Once the criminality of consensual gay sex goes away, then related issues like social stigma and discrimination against the LGBTQ community will also go” . Observing that an environment has been created in the Indian society over the years that has led to deep-rooted discrimination against the community, a five-judge constitution bench, hearing petitions seeking decriminalisation of 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the IPC, said discrimination against such people has also adversely impacted their mental health.
The bench then said the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community faced the stigma because of the criminality attached to consensual same-sex relationship. “Once the criminality (under section 377) goes, then everything will go (all the bars, social stigma and others),” the benchsaid. “Over the years, we have created an environment in the Indian society which has led to deep-rooted discrimination against people of same sex involved in a consensual relationship and this has impacted their mental health also,” the bench said on the third day of crucial hearing to decide the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Section 377 refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine. Referring to the provision of the Mental Health Care Act, the bench said, “it also recognises the fact that such persons cannot be discriminated against on the ground of sexual orientation”.
On Wednesday, the government had left it to the apex court to test the constitutional validity of section 377 of the IPC which criminalises “consensual acts of adults in private”, urging that issues like gay marriages, adoption and ancillary civil rights of LGBTQ should not be dealt by it. Govt leaves it to SC’ wisdom to decriminalise gay sex Taking note of the Centre’s submission that other issues like gay marriages, adoption and ancillary civil rights of LGBTQ community should not be dealt, the court said it was not considering all these issues. The bench had said it would test the validity of the law in relation to the consensual sexual acts of two adults and if it decides to strike down the penal provision then it would remove “ancillary disqualification” of LGBTQ community members who can join services, contest elections and form associations. There are reports of Indian and American psychiatric bodies and said homosexuality was a normal sexual orientation.