Dr Anindya / India
“It was one of the dreadful days of December 2013. It was probably 12 in the afternoon when the apex court of India re-criminalised Section 377, the law that criminalises same sex activity. I had an exam the day after, but I really didn’t care and went to protest march that was happening in Kolkata, the city where the first pride walk of South Asia happened in 1999, the city where I reside. Seeing all the people crying out loud there, my heart filled with bitterness. Suddenly one of the journalists came to me and asked me about my opinion. When she got to know that I was a medical student, she started asking more. Out of impulsiveness and thinking of the humiliation I went through in school, I shouted and raised my voice against this inhuman judgement. After that, while coming back home I realised I have done something serious, but, what if my parents get to see this on national television channel ( I was in the closet back then). I came back home, didn’t study a word for the exam, but kept on thinking how to tell this to my mother. Finally, it was at 10pm while I was eating my dinner with my mother and my mother was taking her last bite to her chicken I came out to her. My mother looked at me and said ‘We are in twenty first century. You don’t have to come out for who you are. Go to bed and get some sleep.’ The rest is history. I realised I have got the coolest parents on earth. Later when I went for my exam in the medical school and my professor of Forensic Medicine, the subject that teaches Law and Medicine asked me about Section 377, I felt shocked and humiliated again. I gave him the answer, but as because I always felt awful while writing myself sick, I told him that Section 377 is unconstituional in today’s world. He was so disgusted that he made me fail for which I had to appear on that exam later. I didn’t ask for any probe, but I realised that the problem lies somewhere else. I contacted the president of World Psychiatric Association and told him the situation. He was so impressed by the email I have sent that he asked me to do a research on ‘Attitudes of Indian Medical Students’ towards Homosexuality.’ I did that research which was first to happen in India and got some shocking results. I knew that medical professionals were taught to be homophobic and forgave my professor for his ignorance for giving me poor marks on that viva table. It was in 2015, when the President of that biggest association made me a member from India of the LGBT Task force of World Psychiatric Association. I was the youngest, being only 24 years old, and the only one from India. We drafted a position statement that mentioned any kinds of treatment which claims to cure homosexuality will be banned and presented that to the World conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The draft had some repercussions. Under this biggest organisation almost 100,000 psychiatrists are involved around the world, and Indian Psychiatric Society is one of them. It was circulated to all the Societies that was under this big organisation. Indian Psychiatric Society was then forced to make a clear stand and released a statement saying “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder.” It was quite important because back in 2013 when Section 377 was re-criminalised, this society didn’t take any clear stand when the legal authorities claimed that this is a mental disorder. However, today when I saw that the Chief Justice of India who gave this judgement today considered this statement of Indian Psychiatric Society before making any conclusion. I was so proud and happy at that moment.
Except school, I always had a very supportive environment, parents, and friends. Many people in my country are not as privileged as I am. I am thankful but I realised in a very young age that it is important for the privileged class to re-think about things they take for granted. Many people are humiliated, cured and discriminated in healthcare settings in countries where LGBTQ is banned. But there are also other people who can do something and start from baby steps. I did the same and witnessed history today.”