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LGBT - A Rainbow in the Skies

India is a country bound rigidly by several varied social and cultural norms. Hence the attitude of every person or a class of person towards an LGBT individual varies. In the past few years, the LGBT community has gained a great deal of acceptance and recognition. But in almost every situation they face prejudices, social discrimination, legal difficulties etc. According to historians, ancient India did not criminalise same sex activities and they were not treated as sinful or immoral. Several depictions of homosexual activity can be seen in archaic sculptures and ancient books. In the 1860's, homosexuality was frowned upon as the British government criminalised same sex activity under sec 377 of Indian penal code.

Almost after 70 years and a lot of struggle, the Supreme Court held sec 377 to be unconstitutional. Various scholars and legal experts have also advised the government to make laws regarding same-sex marriages, adoption by same sex couple etc. Where homosexual couples are yet to be accepted completely, parenting by such couples faces a lot of criticisms from the society. Let us discuss more about the adversities faced by gay couple in the community, the hardships they undergo to bring up a child and the psychological or behavioural changes if any, in the children.

Being LGBT In India:

In India, being a homosexual is looked down upon all the time. They live like pariahs in their own nation and face multiple struggles in all aspects of life. They are ostracized by the community and are frequently victimized. People think that LGBT people are different from normal beings. But people don't understand that they are just individuals who have a sexual preference which is different from what has been fixed by the certain people as norm.

Such norm is itself a falsely fixed one as it utterly discriminates homosexuals by treating them as abnormal people. Such people find it difficult to come out of the closet fearing non-acceptance by the society and their own family members. They find it difficult to gain peer acceptance and anyhow they are ridiculed for being queer. It may lead to suicidal thoughts, anxiety, psychosomatic diseases, mood disorders, substance use, smoking, mental health problems, depression etc.

In a closely knitted society, family support is much needed. Due to the lack of parental support, it might affect the mental and physical health of LGBT people. Pressure to conform to the current norms and to marry a person of the opposite sex in order to protect the reputation of their family may lead to depression. Most of them give way to their parent's wishes and put up with the show of marriage by entering into a loveless marriage by actually suppressing who they really are. In other cases, couples run away together and commit suicide. It is the responsibility of the parents to accept their child and support them in the most confusing phase of their life.

The crucial problem is that parents generally don't accept their children as sexual beings. If the child asks any uncomfortable questions, most of them silence the kids assuming those to be shameful. Usually parents blame themselves thinking that they raised their child the wrong way. They feel embarrassed to face their relatives and are often shunned by them. There are countries where it is legal to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation. And practices like conversion therapy, corrective rape and forced marriages have become highly prevalent these days.

Conversion Therapy:

People view homosexuality to be deviant and abnormal. The common belief among people that homosexuality is a mental disorder was denied by the American psychological association and it was eliminated from the list of mental disorders in 1973. It stated that homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgement, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities.

Yet people who are unaware still think homosexuality to be a mental illness and force their children to take treatment to become straight. Such kind of treatment is called conversion therapy in which the doctors try to convert someone from being homosexual or to suppress a person's sexual identity.

This phenomenon began in the late 19th century when a German psychiatrist claimed to have turned a gay man straight by conducting hypnosis sessions. Hypnosis is one such treatment by which it is believed to change the way people think of themselves. Administering nausea inducing drugs is another method. The doctors make the homosexuals undergo hormone replacement process and electroconvulsive therapy which in turn may lead to memory loss. Parents use physical violence against them in order to change their sexual orientation. They are treated like psychological patients by keeping them in psychiatric ward, administering psychotic drugs and forced to undergo psychosexual experiments.

The intensifying social pressure makes it difficult for them to accept themselves and the society views them as criminals. They have to face a lot of verbal and physical abuse which results in internalised stigma. Even though the American psychological association has proscribed against conversion therapy, they undergo such treatment due to repeated pestering by their parents and relatives.

Several homosexuals find it difficult to seek therapy as they fear that the therapists wouldn't understand their problem or they would be hostile towards them. It may lead to suicidal thoughts, anxiety, psychosomatic diseases, mood disorders, substance use, smoking, mental health problems, depression etc. Providing such kind of treatment violates the basic principles of biomedical ethics. Trying to change the sexual orientation of a person against their will and wish is a severe breach of their rights.

Corrective Rape:

It's not easy being a LGBT in India. A person goes through endless fears even before they accept themselves to be homosexual. First of all, they are afraid when they realise that they are not heterosexual after all. It takes time for them to finally accept themselves.

The next stage is coming out to their parents and friends. Now they are clueless about how their parents would react to the same. There are instances where parents react violently by forcing them to undergo treatment as seen above. But there are other instances where corrective rape is employed to change a person's sexual orientation.

It is a hate crime which is also called as curative homophobic rape where a person is raped just because they do not conform to the present social norms regarding sexuality. As the perpetrators are family members, the victims abstain from seeking legal recourse and they are seldom reported. The term corrective rape was first used in South Africa where the rape was supervised by members of the women's family. They believed that rape can fix people who are not heterosexuals. In India, the rapist is usually someone who is known to the family. Corrective rape is like a disciplining which is done for the purpose of curing the homosexuality. It may result in psychological and physical trauma, bodily injuries, suicidal thoughts etc.

Forced Marriages:

The meaning of this term can be construed from the term itself. In our society, the general expectation is that a man has to marry a woman and bear children. Such marriage must be with the free consent of both people. But there are situations where a marriage is conducted without the consent of one or both people. Physical or mental pressure is used for that purpose. In order to cover up a person's sexual orientation, they are forcibly married to a person of opposite gender into a loveless marriage.

Societal pressures are one such reason for the occurrence of forced marriages against their wishes. In addition, there is also the threat of being disinherited and disowned by their family. It not only affects the homosexual involved in the marriage, but also the other person to whom he/she is married.

They won't be able to lead an ordinary life like others. They are trapped in a marriage devoid of any intimacy. They face depression, emotional distress and sometimes domestic violence. But on the other hand, the other person who had to hide his true sexuality as people condemn it also goes through several mental stress.

Until the time where LGBT people are treated as equals with their heterosexual counterparts and until when same-sex unions become legally and socially acceptable and when the people of the country think marriages are not only for prolonging their generation but the association of two people to live, the forced marriages will continue. But this social stigma is slowly decreasing in the minds of people as the generation of the country becomes educated enough to understand the customs of the society.

Adoption By LGBT:

The members of the LGBT doesn't hold children, therefore they tend to adopt. This adoption of child may be in a form of adoption by same-sex couples jointly, by any one of them, or adopting other person's biological child as a step child. In this world were the rights of LGBT for adoption exists in a minimal way, around 27 countries have legalized adoption by same-sex couples.

Further only 5 counties have legalized step child adoption from the biological parent. In India this adoption by same-sex couples or any couples of LGBT has not been legalized or notified. India has only allowed adoption of child a single person of LGBT as of now. The proposal of Uniform Civil Code in the country by the citizens has drafts that would legalize adoption of child by same-sex couples like man with a man, woman with a woman or a Transgender with another and thus held sexual orientation shall not be a bar for adoption of a child by LGBT members.

In a vast country like India were the bar on LGBT under IPC has only been removed some time back, the legalization of other rights of them could be addressed in another short span of time. LGBT activists have also questioned the Transgender Bill stating that it doesn't provide any note on their marriage and adoption. As proposed in the Uniform Civil Code the Non-Heterosexual couples shall be allowed to adopt a child in the country and it shall also be legalized.

LGBT Parenting:

Homosexual parenting is one of the most debated and discussed topic in India. It means a LGBT person raising a child as parents. It includes a child raised by a single LGBT parent, a child raised by same-sex couples, a child who is the biological child of one partner raised by a same-sex couples and a child raised by an opposite sex couple where the other partner is a homosexual. It can be done by adoption, surrogacy, insemination, reciprocal IVF and other methods.

The European court of human rights held that legally qualified and suitable candidates should be allowed to adopt and should not be discriminated based on their sexual orientation. There is also the option of surrogacy where a woman carrying an egg is fertilized by sperm of a man. Surrogacy can be done for money or for humanitarian causes.

The method of insemination is mostly followed by lesbian couples. It is the process by which one partner is fertilized with a donor sperm. Reciprocal IVF is the method which is used by partners who are females. In this process, the eggs are removed from one partner; embryos are made in laboratory and are carried by the other partner in a successful pregnancy.

Presently several scientists are conducting research on alternative kinds of parenthood which can help same-sex couples to have children.
One of the biggest challenges faced by same-sex parented families is that they should live in a culture that favours heterosexist and homophobic attitudes which affects these families in several ways a debated question regarding same-sex couple's parenthood is if the children raised by them are psychologically and behaviour wise same as the children raised by heterosexual couples.

Many scientific researches has held that the despite the they face legal discrimination and inequity, the children raised by same-sex couples are as psychologically or physically capable and healthy as those raised by opposite-sex couples. But our society doesn't treat such children the same. They are ridiculed and harassed for not having heterosexual parents. They experience high levels of extreme social ostracism and apparent hostility from other children and parents.

This may cause low level of interaction with peers, self esteem issues and major depression in a child's mind and in some cases; it may even be difficult for the child to understand his/her same-sex parents. They may struggle with negative attitude towards their parents. It may also affect the child's academic performance, cognitive development, psychological health and social development. As a result of identifying outside the social normative, heterosexual society, both the children and the parents face bias, violence, bullying, cyber harassment etc.

The children's parents may do everything in their power to help the children understand them and to prevent the children from feeling left out from others of their age. But they cannot change each and every narrow minded person in this society.

One concern among people is that development of sexual identity will be harmed among children of same-sex couples. Another one is that children who grow up without male role models or vice versa will be unable to develop gender- appropriate behaviour. Several researchers found that, children of LGBT parents are not different in their gender role behaviour in comparison with children of heterosexual couples. In fact, a study has revealed that the children of same-sex parents feel less pressured to follow the gender stereotypes.

There is no evidence to state that same-sex couples are unfit to be parents or the psychosocial development among their children is different compared to heterosexual parents. Such children are not disadvantaged in any aspect and the environment provided by same-sex couples is similar as to those provided by heterosexual parents. Many people in the society believe that same-sex parents cannot provide for and raise a child without the aid of the opposite gender in a family dynamic. Hence this makes it difficult for the parents as well as the children to be in the world without the fear of discrimination in all aspects of life. It is the duty of the society to accept all people irrespective of their sexual orientation.

In a country like India where people believe that a child needs a mother's love and father's affection to grow as a complete human and to have good characters it need in the society. But when there exist a new system of same-sex couples there could be a lack of the former said love and affection. Further the laws in the country should be legalized in such a manner that a gay couple can only adopt a male child and a lesbian couple could adopt a female as well as a male child.

This doesn't affect the concept of equality as it will only be an intelligible differentia because the that gay couple will not know what a girl child wants or the girl child cannot share anything as it does it to a mother than a father. Parenting is not only about growing a child but it is bringing up a child with a good character that this society needs.

The Sign of great parenting is not the child's behaviour, it is the Parent's behaviour - Andy Smithson

In a bird's eye view of the rights of the LGBT regarding their marriages especially for the purpose of child adoption, only a limited counties in the world have legalized the same. Further many countries which have legalized LGBT doesn't provide any legal rights for the same-sex couples to adopt a child. As said earlier the view of this society on LGBT couples is not so high in a country like India where the rights of them has been legalized only in the year 2019.

The country needs some time to match up with other rights given to them in other countries. Therefore as provided in the draft of Uniform Civil Code, the marital rights and adoption rights of the LGBT shall be brought in as a law with rules and regulations in order to provide those people with equal rights without any sexual orientation. Further the parenting of the LGBT shall be encouraged without having any social norms amongst the minds of the people.

People who matter won't judge and people who judge don't matter
Written By:
  1. S.S.Sanjay Krishnan &
  2. K.C.Trisha Sammrita
    B.Com; Llb (Hons) Sastra, Thirumalaisamudhram, Thanjavur

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