On Monday 12 October, an LGBTQ+ rights group in the Indian province of Kerala – named Queerala – sent a petition to the area’s high court urging local authorities to ban conversion therapy: any practise which seeks to alter someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. According to The New Indian Express, the group was prompted by the suicide of Anjana Harish, an openly queer woman who publicly discussed her traumatic experiences at a mental health centre in Palakkad where she was subjected to the controversial practice.
A representative of Queerala suggested conversion therapy is still widely practised in India due to misinformed perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community, saying: “Parents are misinformed that it is a psychiatric disorder. Several panic and force their kids into therapy. Due to the power disparity, teenagers are unable to fight back and end up in the dehumanising process.”
Another Queerala member said “sexual orientation designs our identity and self-esteem. When these are stigmatised and shamed, it impacts confidence and creates a mental imbalance” hence why many struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts after undergoing the practise. Despite the Indian Psychiatric Society discrediting conversion therapy in 2018, it continues to be legal in the country; Queerala are hoping the petition will change this.