The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) has said it is “time to stop looking at homosexuality as a mental illness”, stating that the there is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered by any treatment. Any such attempt “may lead to low self-esteem and stigmatisation,” it warned.
A “position statement on Homosexuality” issued by the Society said: “Homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder and we recognise same sex sexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality much like heterosexuality and bisexuality.’’
The Society added that there is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered by any treatment and that any such attempts may in fact lead to low self-esteem and stigmatization of the person.
The stand by the Society comes in when Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that makes homosexuality a crime is being re-examined by the Supreme Court.
The IPS supports de-criminalisation of homosexual behaviour, the statement added, saying this was in line with the position of American Psychiatric Association and the International Classification of Diseases of the WHO which removed homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973 and 1992 respectively.
The Society’s president Ajit Bhide said: “We have to understand that some individuals are just not cut out to be heterosexuals and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, we don’t need to ostracise them.”
He added: “Whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your sexual preference, as long as no other party is being hurt, an individual should be allowed to practice whatever he wants.”