Pursuant to a recent Madras High Court observation that medical courses in India continue to reaffirm queer-phobia and the urgent need to revamp the existing curriculum in this regard, the National Medical Commission (NMC) last week issued an advisory directing all medical institutions to refrain from approving textbooks that contain ‘unscientific, derogatory and discriminatory information’ about the LGBTQIA+ community
Pursuant to a recent Madras High Court observation that medical courses in India continue to reaffirm queer-phobia and the urgent need to revamp the existing curriculum in this regard, the National Medical Commission (NMC) last week issued an advisory directing all medical institutions to refrain from approving textbooks that contain ‘unscientific, derogatory and discriminatory information’ about the LGBTQIA+ community.
“It has been noted that the various textbooks of medical education mainly of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology subject and Psychiatry subject contains unscientific information about virginity and also contains derogatory remarks about LGBTQIA+ community and homosexuals“, the NMC advisory stated.
Justice Anand Venkatesh vide order dated August 31 had issued notice to National Medical Commission and Indian Psychiatric Society after noting that the existing curriculum of the MBBS course legitimises queerphobia. The Court had further referred to a report submitted by Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju who had explained in detail the existence of homophobic literature in the curriculum of the MBBS course and had thus pressed upon the need to revamp the curriculum so as to increase awareness.
“Queerphobia is being reaffirmed as legitimate throughout the education of a doctor who might go on to become a psychiatrist or any physician who might be approached by a person from the community. As important as it is for an advocate or a judge to take up a client’s case or to decide the case, as the case may be without being personally judgemental about them, it is equally or even more important for a professional from the medical and mental health professionals’ fraternity to be non-judgemental and free of moral or personal prejudices about their patient’s or client’s identity on the gender spectrum or their sexuality. Knowledge about a patient’s gender identity and sexuality may be of interest to a doctor, physician and a mental health professional if it is pertinent in cracking the course of treatment, but the course of treatment cannot be one which aims to “cure” their gender identity or sexuality itself”, the Court had opined.
Furthermore, Justice Venkatesh had also expressed strong reservations against the practice of “conversion therapies” by medical professionals and had directed the State to take appropriate action in this regard.
The NMC vide its advisory further directed all medical institutions to ensure that while teaching UG and PG students wherever the issue of gender or similar kind arises, the mention of clinical history or complaints or signs/symptoms, examination findings or history about nomenclature are not taught in such a way that is discriminatory or insulting to the LGBTQIA+ community.
“All the authors of Medical Text Books are hereby 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. Furthermore, all the Medical Universities/Colleges/Institutions are requested not to approve the books as recommended books by the University if the books have unscientific, derogatory and discriminatory information about virginity, LGBTQIA+ community and homosexuals“, the advisory further read.