The 3,000-strong LGBT (lesbian,gay,bisexual,transgender) community in the city is dismayed by the news of the death of Aligarh Muslim University professor S R Siras who was suspended by AMU after he was filmed by spy camera having consensual sex with a man in his bedroom.
While we are not sure about the nature of his death,it is clear that he must have been under tremendous pressure, said Bindu Madhav Khire,president of the Sampathik Trust which conducts sensitisation workshops for the gay community.
Siras taught modern Marathi fiction and short story,comparative Indian literature and modern Marathi poetry at AMU.
R Raj Rao,author of The Boyfriend and BomGay and co-editor of Whistling in the Dark – Twenty-one queer interviews said the difference in regionwise acceptance of homosexuality was evident. For example; the western region of the country,like Pune and Mumbai,is more accepting,he said.
Rao is credited with offering the first-ever academic course on LGBT writing in India at the University of Pune. He has had 40 students opting for the LGBT writing in India course. Now the Indira Gandhi National Open University has also introduced a course on gender and sexuality studies.
While the LGBT community expressed shock at the manner in which the professor was found dead,the support of mental health professionals has come as a boost for their morale. Around 11 mental health professionals from Pune,Bangalore,Kolkata and Goa have filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court supporting the LGTB.
Though homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality,it is perceived and treated as abnormal. This larger public climate of intolerance fostered by the law encroaches on the individual rights of LGBT persons and causes severe mental distress and loss of self-esteem,said Pune-based psychiatrists Dr D K Shirole,Dr S R Pathare and Dr Bhooshan Shukla in the petition.
They reiterate that the American Psychiatric Association and the WHOs International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) do not mention that homosexuality is a disease. Sadly,homosexuals are being forced to live a dual life,causing significant anguish leading to a range of mental health problems, said Shirole.
The Poona Psychiatric Association has also supported the LGBT community. According to Shukla,homosexuality is not a mental disorder. In fact,a major source of stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT persons has been removed through the judgment of the Delhi High court,said Shirole. He pointed out that there is a unanimous medical and psychiatric opinion that homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder and is just another expression of human sexuality.