The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) made the declaration on Tuesday.
The IPS, India’s largest psychiatric body has declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. The IPS has around 3,000 members, and started issuing the new guidance earlier this week.
In a video, which was posted on social media, the body’s president, Dr. Ajit Bhide said: “Certain people are not cut out to be heterosexual and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, to ostracize them.
“It is a step in the right direction… whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your sexual preference, as long as there is no other party being hurt, an individual should be allowed to practice.”
One of the reasons given for the new policy was the advancement of LGBTQ rights worldwide. In the video, Dr. Bhide made reference to how “most respectable psychiatric societies” don’t list homosexuality as a mental illness.
Dr. Kersi Chavda, the chairperson of an IPS taskforce dealing with emotional issues from being LGBTQ, confirmed that this was the IPS’s official stance, saying: “This statement is our official stand on homosexuality, that it is not a disease and should not be treated like one. This is the first time we have released an official stand.”
The announcement was met with praise. One LGBTQ activist, Vikram Doctor told the Hindustan Times: “It should have been done 20 years ago, but I am glad they have now come up with it.
“It (the IPS statement) will be an effective argument in the court to challenge bodies that support criminalisation of homosexuality based on religious point of views.”
Dr. Bhoosan Shukla voiced hopes that it could end gay ‘cure’ therapy in the country, saying: “This is the first time [that the] IPS has publicly made a categorical statement on its take on homosexuality.
“Now, they must inform all IPS members in strictest possible terms to stop practising conversion therapies.”
However, despite this declassification, homosexuality is still illegal in India. At the moment, the Supreme Court is reviewing Section 377, which criminalises homosexuality. Their final decision is expected before the end of October.
And earlier this week, India banned the release of Love, Simon. It is currently understood that the Central Board of Film Certification banned the hit romcom because of its gay content.