India: no homosexuals here

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 30 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:57
  1. Balaji Ravichandran (, second year medical student
  1. Madras Medical College, Chennai, India

    That homosexuality is still a criminal offence under section 377 of India's penal code is a sad reality. Perhaps what is even more sad is that many if not most Indian medical educators, including practising doctors, are homophobic and believe that homosexuality is a mental deviation that needs treatment.

    In my sophomore year much teaching focused on the effect of HIV and AIDS on the health of Indians. I was shocked when my professor declared, “In Western countries, it primarily spreads among homosexuals. Of course, in our country, we don't have any homosexuals.” I protested, declaring that homosexuality is very much prevalent in our country. He was indifferent, and my colleagues were annoyed.

    Sexuality in general is a big taboo in India

    Later I approached the professor and asked him what he thought of homosexual people. He declared his belief that there is no such thing as homosexuality and that it was a US invention. To see if this was echoed by others I tried …

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