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Conversion Therapy: can you get rewired?

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

While we call today’s generation liberal and open-minded, the LGBT community still suffers from discrimination, judgement and shame. When a family member or society discovers that some individual does not behave or love as per the societal norm, they are regarded as a disgrace to the community. Indian Psychiatric Society has declared that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, still it has been observed that parents and relatives send their adolescents to gay conversion therapy to save them from shame and embarrassment.

It is still believed by many that, with a perfect blend of prayers, medicines and medical procedures, homosexual tendencies can be cured. There are many “So-Called Doctors, Religious Leaders and Councillors” who claim that they have cured homosexuality. These people organise things called as seminars or Bootcamp where they gather these individuals and using inappropriate techniques try to change their sexual orientation. This therapy not only messes their brains completely, but many couldn’t bear the pressure and decide to end their life.

While we were researching on this topic, we came across Robert, he is a 23-year-old individual who has allowed us to use his story. He was around 12 or 13 years old when this incident occurred with him. Being from a roman catholic family he regularly attended mass and was a regular attendee of Sunday school. (Unlike a traditional school, this was just once a week class for school kids which is organised in church premises, where they are taught about their religion) One such Sunday, students from 5th std to 8th std had a combined class, as there was a guest lecture organised.

So like every other kid, even Robert was excited to attend this class as they were going to talk on different topics based on religion and human behaviour. Just to backtrack a little, by this time Robert has realised that he was attracted towards his same gender, but decided to not reveal it to anyone. During this lecture, the guest professor was discussing homosexuality, and it shocked Robert as he had never thought that a topic like this would be spoken to kids his age, so he decided to pay special attention.

The entire lecture spoke about how disgraceful it was to even have such feelings as according to the professor, “homosexuals have surrendered their souls and minds to the devil”. What struck him the most was that while concluding the lecture, the counsellor said that “I have helped many homosexual men in curing their orientation, and have led them to a happy married life”. After this lecture, Robert didn’t know what to do and what to feel as he was made aware that he was a disgrace to his religion, the devil had taken over his mind and body and if these feelings did not stop, he might directly go to hell. These feelings grew stronger and stronger and that started impacting him mentally. He started losing his appetite and started going into depression. After growing up, it took him a lot of counselling sessions and treatment for him to feel better again, but with that just one session, he lost all his confidence and self-worth, which he could never regain again.

Indian Supreme Court has decriminalised consensual homosexual sex under Section 377 in 2018, and after this amendment, there were many rights framed in favour of the LGBT community. One of those clauses clearly states that it is illegal to conduct gay conversion therapy as homosexuality is not a disease in the first place which requires any cure. So the answer to our above-asked question is clear, homosexuality cannot be cured and no therapy can make these tendencies go.

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