As we are into the second half into this year’s Pride Month, there are people in our country who still believe that homosexuality is a mental illness. According to them, being anything other than “straight” is abnormal.
Despite the decriminalisation of Section 377 in 2018, discrimination against the LGBT community hasn’t decreased in India. You’d be shocked to know, at the UN Human Rights Council in 2019, India abstained from voting for LGBT rights. If that’s our stance as a country, what else can you expect from the citizens?
Evelyn Hooker debunks “homosexuality is a mental illness” myth
People view homosexuality, or any sexual preference other than heterosexuality, through a conservative lens. Various organised religious communities consider same-sex relationships to be a sin.
Before 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association (APA) used to believe that homosexuality was a mental illness. This scientifically inaccurate assumption was retracted thanks to Evelyn Hooker.
Born in Nebraska in 1907, Evelyn Hooker was probably one of the most notable psychologists of the 20th century. In the 1950s, she conducted an experiment on 30 homosexual men and 30 heterosexual men, wherein she tested their mental health.
Evelyn’s paper, titled, “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual,” concluded that homosexuality is not a mental illness.
As a result of this, in 1973, 5,854 against 3,810 psychiatrists voted to remove homosexuality from APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In 1992, APA awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award, their highest honour, to Evelyn Hooker.
Homophobia and India
While it’s true that homophobia in India has declined recently, it exists enough to matter. Boomers, one of the most homophobic generations (in my opinion), have the most progressive conservative outlook towards sexuality. In other words, they’re fine with homosexuals as long as their children aren’t homosexuals.
Celebrity yogi Baba Ramdev once claimed that he could “cure” homosexuality, implying homosexuality is a mental illness. He was quite vocal about his opposition to decriminalisation of Section 377, as well.
In 2018, a Delhi-based doctor used electric shocks on people of the LGBT community as he believed that homosexuality is a genetic mental disorder.
This is the situation in our capital.
Shutting all the naysayers and ignorants like Baba Ramdev, the Psychiatric Society of India made an official statement in 2018 that said, “Homosexuality is not a disorder.” They recognised same-sex sexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality, as is heterosexuality and bisexuality.
So, the next time someone comes up to you and says, “Homosexuality is a mental illness,” show them this article. It’s time we unlearn and learn perspectives.