The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), an umbrella body for psychiatrists across the country, said this in response to the furore over its former president Dr Indira Sharma’s statement on homosexuality last month.
Dr Sharma had said (TOI, January 19), “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 is a private matter.”
The lesbian-gay community had taken up the matter with the IPS. “Based on existing scientific evidence and good practice guidelines from the field of psychiatry, the Indian Psychiatric Society would like to state that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease,” said the statement by IPS president Dr T V Asokan and general secretary N N Raju.
The note added that the IPS would issue a detailed statement later. Dr Raju told TOI on Thursday that the majority had spoken. “Now that we have stated that homosexuality isn’t a mental illness, it’s no longer in the purview of psychiatrists,” he said, adding that views changed over time. “A few decades back, hypertension was considered a mental illness, and so was hyperthyroidism,” he said.
Dr Sharma, who heads the psychiatry department at Banaras Hindu University, wrote to TOI that she had given a talk on homosexuality at the IPS annual conference held in Pune in January. “I only said homosexuality is a social issue. Sexual orientation cannot be changed by enacting laws or by punitive measures. It has to come from within. The media has a responsibility to create awareness regarding society’s view on sexual orientation, whether it approves or disapproves it,” she said, adding that her comment was neutral.