Straight outta India
In India, backward attitudes to sex, and homosexuality in particular, make tackling sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, difficult. Balaji Ravichandran discusses Indian doctors' attitudes to non-heterosexuality
That homosexuality is still a criminal offence under section 377 of the Indian penal code is a sad reality. Perhaps what is even more sad is my observation that many Indian medical educators, if not most, and that largely includes practising doctors, are homophobic. They believe that homosexuality is a mental deviation that needs treatment. This observation was reaffirmed when I talked to students from colleges throughout southern India.
In my sophomore year, much teaching focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the health of the Indian population. I was shocked to notice my professor declaring, “In Western countries, it primarily spreads among homosexuals. Of course, in our country, we don't have any homosexuals.” I protested, declaring that homosexuality is very much prevalent in our country. He was indifferent, and my colleagues were annoyed.
Later, I approached the professor and asked him what he thought of homosexual people. He declared