The demise of an openly bisexual 21 year old student of Thalassery’s Brennan College in Kerala has left the LGBTQ+ community speechless. Anjana Harish, also known as Chinnu Sulficker, allegedly took her own life in Goa on May 12th, after succumbing to the mental and physical pain inflicted upon her by her parents after coming out as bisexual. In a Facebook live video, Anjana accused her family of physically forcing her to undergo a tormenting ‘conversion therapy’ to cure her sexuality.
Image via The Better India
Anjana was allegedly taken to a de-addiction center in Palakkad district without her consent, and put under heavy sedatives, weakening her mentally and physically. She was in solitary confinement for three weeks, among other hallucinating and schizophrenic patients. After her discharge, Anjana somehow managed to reach Goa with a few of her friends. “The medicines and injections have erased the identity of Anjana Harish. The sedatives affected me severely, I could not see or speak. I was dizzy all the time. I’ve become robotic”, she said in the video.
“What hurts me the most is that my own family is the reason behind my mental and physical downfall. The ones who are supposed to protect me have tortured me endlessly. I was not given the consideration of even being their daughter”, Anjana said. Homosexuality still remains a taboo in Indian society. Queer people are often coerced into conversion therapy by their families, who view their sexuality as a mental disorder.
According to a statement issued by The Indian Psychiatric Society in 2014, “There is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease”. Moreover, the practice of Conversion Therapy is illegal in India. Supreme Court’s NALSA judgement states: “No person may be forced to undergo any form of medical or psychological treatment, procedure, testing, or be confined to a medical facility, based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” Conversion therapy is a deplorable act, causing extreme adversities in queer people. It includes malicious methods such as electric shocks, hormone therapy, aversion therapy, and masturbatory reconditioning as ‘treatments’.
The stigma associated with homosexuality and trans-sexuality compels families to adopt the draconian step of ‘converting’ them. A lack of basic understanding about the LGBTQ+ community and their livelihood can lead to shame, guilt, depression, suicidal tendencies, and dysmorphia in queer people. “Sexuality is just a variation and is not an aberration. So, what are you trying to convert? It is important that you convert yourself – to come to a path of knowledge and wisdom where you understand that two people who love differently are not people who are variants or deviants or anything of that sort. They just love differently”, said Equal Right Activist, Harish Iyer in an interview with The Quint following the death of Anjana Harish.
Despite the historic strike-down of IPC Sec 377 (criminalization of homosexual sex) in 2018, Indian society has arguably failed to amend their beliefs and accept the LGBTQ+ community, unbeknownst of the repercussions these failed amendments result in.
Featured Image via Canva