On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court passed a landmark ruling. A division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly has asked the National Medical Commission and the Undergraduate Medical Education Board to take action against the usage of outdated and discriminatory language, queerphobic text, and concepts about the LGBTQ+ community in MBBS textbooks.
Queerythm and Dhisha, NGOs that represent the queer community, had petitioned the Kerala High Court to direct attention to discriminatory and outdated content in MBBS books. The books included content like “they consist of a group of people suffering from mental disorder, perversion and flaunting such identity is an offence”. They brought the Court’s attention to a list of such discriminatory content through their counsel Legith T Kotakkal.
The petition from the NGOs stated, “Such references are made in the textbooks despite the fact that the queer community’s rights are recognised by the Supreme Court of India and decriminalised homosexual sex between consenting adults.” The petition also drew the Court’s attention to the fact that such statements in books add to people’s fear of being stigmatised for revealing their sexual orientation.
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Queerythm and Dhisha stated that they had raised the issue with state authorities in March this year, but did not receive a response. They also said that such instances were not limited to MBBS textbooks and that other textbooks had queerphobic content too.
Syma S, a member of Kerala’s Transgender Justice Board said, “We have set up a research desk to find out such discriminatory contents in the curriculum. Despite many verdicts and new measures attitude towards the community is changing very slowly. We have to speed up the pace.”
Madras High Court had, last week, directed the Tamil Nadu medical board to revamp its curriculum and remove queerphobic text references against the LGBTQ+ community based on public interest litigation.