National Medical Commission of India Directs Removal of False Information on LGBTQ+ From Medical Textbooks

National Medical Commission of India Directs Removal of False Information on LGBTQ+ From Medical Textbooks
Indian LGBTQ+ activists march during a gay pride parade in New Delhi, 2016, Tsering Topgyal, World Politics Review

Gabriela Johannen

India and Human Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defense

The National Medical Commission (NMC) of India has ordered textbook publishers and medical schools to remove discriminatory and unscientific depictions about the LGBTQ+-Community. The advisory dated October 13, follows a landmark judgment of the Madras High Court from June 2021 which prohibited conversion therapy in India, and advocated for establishing guidelines for the protection and safety of members of the community.

The NMC advisory stated, “it has been noted that the various textbooks of medical education, mainly for Forensic Medicine & Toxicology subject and Psychiatry subject contains unscientific information about virginity and also contain derogatory remarks against LGBTQIA+ Community and Homosexuals.” [1] As a result, the advisory prohibits medical schools and universities from teaching subjects in a disparaging and discriminatory way. It also instructs authors to make changes to the currently existing textbooks based on “available scientific literature, guidelines issued by the government, and directions passed by the Hon’ble Courts,” [2] ultimately updating outdated curricula.

This approach promotes creating a safer environment for sexual minorities in India, which has long been needed. It is estimated that 3% of the Indian population identify as homosexual (including gay and lesbian), 9% identify as bisexual, 1% as pansexual, and 2% identify as asexual, which makes it a total of approximately 15% of the population that identify as non-heterosexual. A group, that has frequently been denied medical health care in the past. It is hoped that the advisory will counter prejudices prevalent in the population and medical personnel and ultimately allow sexual minorities to receive qualified medical treatment based on science according to their needs without discrimination.

Notes:

[1] National Medical Commission, “Advisory regarding the issue of LGBTQIA+ Community and necessary changes in competencies of CBME- curriculum”, No. NMC/Secy/2021/41/025834, 13 October 2021, para. 1.

[2] Ibid., para. 3.

Sources and further reading:

Dhrubo Jyoti, “Amend discriminatory info in LGBTQIA+: NMC to institutes”, Hindustan Times, 14 October 2021, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/amend-discriminatory-info-on-lgbtqia-nmc-to-institutes-101634149481724.html.

Ipsos, “LGBT+ pride 2021 global sourvey”, 23 April – 7 May 2021, https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2021-06/LGBT%20Pride%202021%20Global%20Survey%20Report_3.pdf.

National Medical Commission, “Advisory regarding the issue of LGBTQIA+ Community and necessary changes in competencies of CBME- curriculum”, No. NMC/Secy/2021/41/025834, 13 October 2021, https://www.nmc.org.in/MCIRest/open/getDocument?path=/Documents/Public/Portal/LatestNews/Advisory1.pdf

Sabrang, “Purge incorrect, derogatory references to LGBTQIA+persons: National Medical Commission”, Newsclick, 14 October 2021, https://www.newsclick.in/Purge-incorrect-derogatory-references-LGBTQIA-persons-National-Medical-Commission.

S Sushma v. Commissioner of Police, High Court of Madras, Judgment of 7 June 2021, W.P.No.7284 of 2021, https://images.assettype.com/barandbench/2021-06/cbae3182-93ff-4d60-a3d9-83dbfa849cf9/S_Sushma_v_Commissioner_of_Police.pdf.