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Cut ‘queerphobic’ text from MBBS books: Kerala HC

Hearing a petition filed by two NGOs named Queerythm and Disha representing the queer community, a division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly directed the board to redress their grievances and take immediate action.
By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON SEP 08, 2021 02:51 AM IST
The petitioners pointed out inhuman and discriminatory remarks against their community in textbooks — references like “they consist of a group of people suffering from mental disorder, perversion and flaunting such identity is an offence”.(HT File Photo)

The Kerala high court on Tuesday directed the state medical education board to take necessary steps to remove discriminatory references against LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community from MBBS textbooks and check “queerphobic” contents.

Hearing a petition filed by two NGOs named Queerythm and Disha representing the queer community, a division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly directed the board to redress their grievances and take immediate action.

The petitioners pointed out inhuman and discriminatory remarks against their community in textbooks — references like “they consist of a group of people suffering from mental disorder, perversion and flaunting such identity is an offence”.

They submitted a list of such references through their counsel Legith T Kotakkal and said such references are against the fundamental rights of the community. “Many such references are made in textbooks despite the fact that queer community rights are recognised by the Supreme Court and it decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same sex,” the petition claimed.

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They said they had made a representation to the state authorities for correction earlier in March this year, but it was not responded to. They claimed that not only medical books but many other textbooks also contain such highly “queerphobic” and discriminatory contents.

Even in the medical field, the petitioners claimed, due to the fear of being victimised due to the stigma attached to queerness, many members from the community are scared to reveal their sexual orientation.

They also pointed out that last week, Madras high court had directed the Tamil Nadu medical board to revamp its curriculum and immediately remove references against LGBTQIA community based on a public interest litigation.

Kerala was the first state to formulate a transgender policy in 2015 and also establish a transgender justice board in 2017. The state’s first metro in Kochi also employed many people from the community. But many activists working in the area say such measures remain only on paper, and the community needs acceptance, not sympathy.

“We have set up a research desk to find out such discriminatory contents in curriculum. Despite many verdicts and new measures attitude towards the community is changing very slow. We have to speed up the pace,” said Syma S, a member of the government of Kerala’s Transgender Justice Board.

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