The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) on Sunday issued a statement mentioning the positive impact of legalisation of same-sex marriage on the mental health of individuals on the LGBTQIA spectrum. The professional body also gathered scientific data from countries where same-sex marriage and adoption have been legalised to prove that there is no scientific basis in belief that same-sex couples are not fit to be parents.
The move comes amid an ongoing case in the Supreme Court over providing legal validation for same-sex marriages.
The IPS in its statement mentioned that individuals on the LGBTQIA spectrum be treated like all citizens of the country, and “enjoy all civil rights like marriage, adoption, education, and employment, to name a few”. Opposing the Union of India’s counter affidavit in the Supreme Court, they argued that “there is no evidence to indicate that individuals on the LGBTQIA spectrum cannot partake in any of the above. On the contrary, discrimination which prevents the above, may lead to mental health issues”.
The statement issued by the IPS is based on scientific research conducted in countries like the U.K., the U.S.A., the Netherlands, and Taiwan, where same-sex marriage and adoption by LGBTQIA couples has been legalised. Dr. Ajit Bhide, the ex-president of IPS, says that “considering there is a lack of studies of queer parenting in the India context, we had to look at the studies done in other countries where same-sex marriage and adoption by LGBTQIA couples was legal and nowhere did we find that the same-sex couples were inept in adopting and fostering children”.
“A study looking at 23 empirical studies on children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers were reviewed [one Belgian/Dutch, one Danish, three British, and 18 North American] that took into consideration their emotional functioning, sexual preference, stigmatisation, gender-role behaviour, behavioural adjustment, gender identity, and cognitive functioning. It concluded children raised by same-sex couples did not systematically differ from other children on any of the outcomes. Another study done in the U.S. showed that differences that exist in child well-being are largely due to socioeconomic circumstances and family stability, and not due to being raised by queer couples,” the body said, further countering the Indian government’s stand.
Reacting to the statement, lawyer and queer rights activist Rohin Bhatt said the statement is a welcome step. “We have read reports about all sorts of unscientific hogwash from the Solicitor-General about the effect marriage equality will have on children, but a statement based on scientific knowledge countering that argument will surely go a long way,” he said.
In extension to their statement issued in 2018, supporting the “decriminalisation and de-pathologisation of homosexuality and LGBTQA spectrum from Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code”, the IPS further stated that a child adopted into a same-gendered family may face challenges, stigma, and/or discrimination along the way and therefore it is imperative that, once legalised, such parents bring up the children in a gender-neutral, unbiased environment.
Further, the panel comprising of Dr. Alka Subramanyam, Dr. Arabinda Brahma, and Dr. Vinay Kumar stressed on the importance of sensitising social units like families, communities, schools, and society in general, to protect and promote the development of such a child, and prevent stigma and discrimination at any cost.