In June 2021, Justice N Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court, in his judgement on the S Sushma v. Commissioner of Police case, called for a ban on conversion therapy. Not only that, he also acknowledged his own majoritarian cis-het bias, while exhibiting a will to unlearn discriminatory attitude towards LGBTQIA+ people, and issued notices to the National Medical Commission (NMC) and the Indian Psychiatric Society “to submit reports before the next date of hearing on how the two medical bodies would help prevent [conversion therapies] from happening.”
Yesterday in line with the High Court and Justice Venkatesh’s directions, Secretary of NMC, Dr. Anjula Jain issued an advisory regarding “the issue of LGBTQIA+ Community and necessary changes in competencies of CBME [Competency-Based Medical Education] curriculum”. Calling out the medical literature—the subject of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology subject, and Psychiatry, in particular—for their “unscientific information about virginity” and “derogatory remarks against LGBTQIA+ Community and homosexuals” in strictest words possible, Dr. Jain made it clear to all the medical universities, colleges, and institutions running undergraduate and post-graduate programs to follow the directions issued by Justice Venkatesh “wherever the issue of gender or similar kind arise“.
To further discourage discriminations that are levelled against the LGBTQIA+ people, Dr. Jain requested medical institutions to refrain from using and teaching “clinical history or complaints or signs/symptoms, examination findings or history” that is “derogatory/discriminatory/insulting” to the LGBTQIA+ people.
Not only that, but this issuance has also come down heavily on the publishing industry and authors of medical textbooks. Dr. Jain has “instructed to amend the information about virginity, LGBTQIA+ Community and homosexuals, etc. in their textbooks according to the available scientific literature, guidelines issued by the Government, and directions passed by the Hon’ble Courts.” In case any relapses are found, and medical institutions fail to adhere to the recommendations of NMC, which it will take it to be the promotion of “unscientific, derogatory, and discriminatory information,” Dr. Jain has warned that institution and/or publication shall be “applied strictly by the Government and Authorities concerned.”
This issuance is a sign that a change in the language, literature, and, thus, the attitude of the public at large is not far from being a reality if timely steps in the right direction are taken.