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Kerala HC Directs Medical Education Board To Consider Plea Against Queerphobic Contents In Textbooks

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Queerphobic MBBS Textbooks: A plea filed in Kerala High Court highlighted the queerphobic contents in medical education textbooks. The court considered the points made in the petition and asked the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board in New Delhi to acknowledge the grievances of the petition within eight weeks.

As per reports, the plea was filed by two non-profit organisations in Kerala, Queerythm and Dhisha. They pointed out the offensive descriptions and derogatory remarks on queer persons and other sexual minorities in the MBBS textbooks. The objections were also directed towards the curriculum set by the National Medical Commission and Under-Graduate Medical Education Board.

The Kerala High Court called the petition a serious issue and sought urgent intervention by the Under Graduate Medical Education Board.

The petition argued that the textbooks “stereotype the queer community’s sexual or gender identities as offence, mental disorder or perversion.” They asked for a revision of the curriculum and the medical textbooks as they claimed that the remarks in those infringe the Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (Equality before law) and that also discriminate against the queer community.

The plea cited that the curriculums prepared by the National Medical Commission and Under Graduate Medical Education Board, labeled ‘homosexuality and lesbianism’ under ‘un-natural sexual offence, sexual perversion and paraphilia’. The curriculum also calls homosexuality a sexual disorder and transgenderism as gender identity disorder. The petitioners named many textbooks taught in Kerala University of Health Sciences and accused them of “perpetuating queer phobia, providing unscientific data.”

As per the petition, Shaw’s Textbook of Gynecology (16th edition), describes homosexuality, ‘transvestism’ (cross dressing) and transexuality as ‘abnormal sexual behaviors’ and as ‘psychosexual patients’. Third edition of Review of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology by Gautam Biswas puts homosexuality under a ‘sexual offence’. The book allegedly wrongly stated that as per Section 377 (Unnatural offences) of the IPC, homosexuality is a crime. The book has not been revised after the Supreme Court verdict three years ago.

The plea also highlighted that the Review of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology has statements like “lesbians are morbidly jealous of one another when rejected may commit homicide, suicide or both. It (lesbianism) is usually indulged by woman who have repulsion for men or who suffer from Nymphomania.” Several other problematic contents in other books were told to court.

The petitioners argued that the queer community students pursuing medical courses are traumatised and victimised. “Due to this victimisation and fear of being victimised, students from queer communities pursuing medical education are unable to reveal their identity and come out before this honourable court,” the petitioners said.

The non profit organisations who filed the plea had claimed to have approached the National Medical Commission, Under Graduate Medical Education Board, University Grants Commission, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with pleas on the issue in June this year, but they did not get any response.