Public debate over
repealing of Article 377 unfortunately is marred by affirmative bias
in the main stream media. Fairness of debate in a democratic civil
society demands that the common man should be well informed of
issues which have ramifications on his daily life.
In his famous
book Gay and Lesbian youth Gilbert Herdt wrote:
“Homosexuality in contemporary America has arisen as a new form of
homosexual practice that comprises sexual orientation, a social
identity and political movement.”
By repeatedly confronting the
American Association of Psychiatrists, the Gay rights activists
convinced them to drop any reference to homosexuality in DSM III
(Diagnostic Criteria for Sexual Dysfunction due to General Medical
Condition) formulated in 1973, which marked a significant cultural
shift according to Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehensive Text Book of
Psychiatry. The influence of post-modernism and biomedical
studies significantly contributed to this position of a majority of
American psychiatrists although all psychiatrists do not subscribe
to this idea.
does not contain any hard biomedical evidence, either genetic or
hormonal, in support of homosexuality. Dr. Baron in 1993 wrote in
the British Medical Journal (BMJ) about the conflict of
theory of evolution and homosexuality. He noted: “From evolutionary
perspective, genetically determined homosexuality would have become
extinct long ago because of reduced reproduction.”
proposed the idea of ‘discontinuity’ in sexual development to
explain variation in the psychological experience and symbolic
meaning of sexuality, in contrast to the continuity in sexual
development across life span that is assumed in most traditional
approaches to understanding sexual development.
There is no
convincing medical evidence to prove that homosexuality is an
inherent trait. It is an acquired alternate sexual orientation as a
result of various psycho-social factors.
The risks faced by
the gay community range from social discrimination and societal and
domestic violence to health care risks both psychological and
physical. Rigid ideological positions and homophobia, which is
defined as fear or hatred of homosexual gays and lesbians, are the
major causes of social discrimination.
rates in homosexuals as compared to heterosexuals have been
adequately documented in medical literature in addition to alcohol
addiction and drug abuse. However psychiatric literature attributes
this to internalised homophobia, a personalised fear of
As regards health
care issues in homosexuals, HIV infection plays a dominant role. To
quote Kaplan and Sadock: “In general gay men have increased rates of
sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection and use of certain
substances such as inhaled nitrites (poppers). Since 1980s the
influence of HIV Infection and AIDS on the individual lives and
communities of gay men has been enormous and has affected almost
every aspect of the personal and public experience of being a gay.
As a result, HIV infection must be considered as a potential problem
in the life of every gay man who enters health care.”
Protecting civil society
community medicine experts, the pattern of spread of HIV infection
in the U.S. could be closely traced to the increasing rate of
practice of homosexuality. Proctitis (anal canal inflammation and
infection) and anal cancer rates are alarmingly high among gay men.
An Indian American family physician practising in Chicago recently
remarked that they encounter proctitis and vaginitis now as commonly
as any general practitioner in India encounters fever and diarrhoea
in his or her practice. Civil society has a duty to protect the
sexual minorities from discrimination, abuse and from physical and
psychological risks by providing sympathetic psycho-social support.
But propagating homosexuality would lead to this behaviour,
resulting in individual and collective health care risks straining
an already overburdened healthcare system, apart from the manpower
loss and negative demographic pattern it would produce.
While judging the
constitutional validity of Article 377, the learned judges of the
Supreme Court should also ensure that the State adequately fulfils
its obligation of providing a healthy, risk-free and productive life
of civil society at large.
(Courtesy The Hindu)
writer is consultant neurosurgeon, Billroth Hospitals, Chennai