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The Ban on Conversion Therapy

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September 23, 2022

Why in news?

The National Medical Commission (NMC), the apex regulatory body of medical professionals in India, has banned the conversion therapy calling it a “professional misconduct”.

What is the National Medical Commission directive about?

  • As per the Madras High Court directive, the NMC issued an official notification listing conversion therapy as a wrong, under Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquettes and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.
  • It also empowered the State bodies to take disciplinary action against medical professionals who breach the guideline.

To know about LGBTQIA+ community, click here

What is conversion therapy?

  • Conversion or reparative therapy is an intervention aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual.
  • It employs the use of either psychiatric treatment, drugs, exorcism or even violence to make the individual a heterosexual.
  • It also includes efforts to change the core identity of youth whose gender identity is incongruent with their sex anatomy.

Homosexuality in India was criminalised under colonial-era legislation in 1861. However, this law was repealed in 2018.

What are the risks involved?

  • The conversion therapy poses the risk of
    • Psychological distress
    • Higher rates of depression
    • Substance use problems
    • Suicide attempts
  • The researchers found that over a lifetime, the estimated cost of this therapy amounts to nearly 1 lakh dollars per person.

conversion-therapy

What is the role of the Madras High Court in the ban?

  • The High Court ruling prohibited any attempt to medically cure or change the sexual orientation of LGBTQIA+ people.
  • It urged the authorities to take action against professionals involving themselves in any form or method of conversion therapy which could include the withdrawal of licence to practice medicine.
  • The court ordered the National Medical Commission to issue official notification by enlisting conversion therapy as a professional misconduct.
  • The Madras High Court issued a slew of interim guidelines for the police, activists, Union and State Social Welfare Ministries and the NMC to ensure the safety and security of same sex couples.
  • Directive to police- To close complaints of missing persons’ cases, without subjecting them to harassment, if it found that the parties were consenting adults of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Directive to Social Justice Ministry- To draw up a list of NGOs and other groups which could handle the issues faced by the community.
  • To provide legal assistance by the District Legal Services Authority in coordination with law enforcement agencies.
  • Directive to law enforcement agencies- To follow the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 and the 2019 Act, in letter and spirit.
  • To hold sensitisation programmes for understanding the community needs.

What is the way forward?

  • Parents need to be sensitised, because the first point of misunderstanding and abuse often begins at home, with teenagers being forced to opt for conversion therapies.
  • The need of the hour is to enact a stringent piece of legislation that will outlaw the practice of conversion therapy.
  • As a society, we have to acknowledge that every individual is unique and gender expression, sexual identity or sexual orientation cannot be forced upon any individual or controlled by any external force.
  • Dignity is a grand promise that our Constitution gives to every citizen irrespective of his caste, creed, gender or sexual orientation and hence it cannot be compromised.
  • Efforts must be taken to prevent the cases of bullying, discrimination, stigma and exclusion.
  • Schools and colleges must effect changes in curricula for a better understanding of the community.
  • Gender-neutral restrooms should be compulsory in educational institutes and other places.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-the-ban-on-conversion-therapy-for-the-lgbtqia-community/article65853083.ece
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-blow-for-dignity/article65915647.ece
  3. https://www.nmc.org.in/about-nmc/

 

Quick facts

National Medical Commission (NMC)

  • The NMC has been constituted by an act of Parliament known as National Medical Commission Act, 2019.
  • The Aim of the National Medical Commission are to
    • Improve access to quality and affordable medical education
    • Ensure availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals
    • Promote equitable and universal healthcare
    • Encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research
    • Assess medical institutions periodically in a transparent manner
    • Enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services
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