Mental health of LGBTQIA++ communities in India.

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    In Context 

    Recently ,The need was felt to reflect momentarily on the state of mental health of LGBTQIA++ communities in India.

    State of mental health of LGBTQIA++ communities in India.

    • Despite the reading down of Section 377, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgement as also successive progressive movements, India’s class, caste and regionally diverse LGBTQIA++ communities remain at risk of life-long mental illnesses and challenges
      • This can take the form of severe mental illness or transient and long standing dysfunctional harmful behaviours.
    • In India and elsewhere, from an early age, everyone is pressured, openly or structurally, into accepting gender roles and sexual identities.
      •  Those who do not comply are bullied, abused, and assaulted under the pretence of correcting them.
    • Causes : 
      • This is caused by life-long dissonance, deep-rooted stigma, discrimination and often abuse, that the community experiences. 
    • Impacts :
      • It often leads to extreme distress and poor self-worth, resulting in self-hate and suffering. 
      • It can result in internalised homophobia, often leading to anxiety, loneliness and substance use. 
      • LGBTQIA++ youth are likely to suffer 1.75 times more anxiety and depression than the rest of society while the transgender community is even more vulnerable as its members suffer 2.4 times higher anxiety and depression.

    Other issues faced by them 

    • Inadequate health services
      • When help is sought even by the most empowered, queer affirmative mental health services are hardly available. 
      • A large majority of the psychiatrists in India still consider diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as a disorder and practice ‘correctional therapy’. 
        • This is also true of general health care as well.
        •  In an ongoing study, the Raahat Project found that a large number of trans and gay men preferred to pay and seek help in the private sector rather than access government health care due to harassment and stigma.
    • They face discrimination in employment, educational institutes, and within families which severely affects their overall wellbeing.

    Efforts made in India 

    • Judgement of the NALSA Case
      • The ruling in National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) v. Union Of India, famously known as the NALSA Case, has far-reaching implications. 
    • The Court directed Centre and State Governments to grant legal recognition of gender identity whether it be male, female or third-gender.
      • Further, it declared that hijras and eunuchs can legally identify as “third gender”.
    • Centre and State Governments have been directed to take proper measures to provide medical care to transgenders in hospitals and provide them with separate public toilets and other facilities
    • Recognising third gender persons as a “socially and educationally backward class of citizens”, entitled to reservations in educational institutions and public employment.
    • Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019:
      • The law passed by the Parliament aims to end discrimination against transgender persons in accessing education, employment and healthcare and recognise the right to self-perceived gender identity.
    • Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020: 
      • It has been framed by the government to give effect to the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
    • National Council for Transgender Persons: 
      • In pursuance of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the National Council for Transgender Persons has been constituted to advise the Central Government on the formulation and evaluation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects for the welfare of the transgender community.
    • Reservation for the transgender community: 
      • The Union government is planning to bring reservations for the community under the OBC category in employment.
    • National Portal for Transgender Persons:
      • It is a portal by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which assists persons of the transgender community in applying for a Certificate and Identity card digitally from anywhere in the country.
      • Through the Portal, they can monitor the status of their application which ensures transparency in the process.
    • Garima Greh:
      • The scheme aims to provide shelter to Transgender persons, with basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care and recreational facilities.
      • Besides, it will provide support for the capacity-building/skill development of persons in the Community, which will enable them to lead a life of dignity and respect.

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • The mental illnesses and challenges that India’s LGBTQIA++ people face need comprehensive and long-term solutions that make queer mental health a priority and address community needs but also engage everyone to change the environment in which they exist. 
    • Awareness and other steps
      • Every aspect of mental health work in India must include aspects of queer mental health issues, especially in schools and universities, to destigmatise diverse gender and sexual identities.
      •  We need a movement on queer mental health guided by non-discrimination and public awareness in order to change social attitudes.
    • Community building is an important part of improving the mental health for LGBTQIA++ people. 
      • We need to create supportive, safe and educational spaces, access points for health care and information on mental health. 
    • The recent judgement and the legislations has been a welcome step to mainstream the community in society and increase the sense of respect for the transgender community. 

    [Q] Despite the various Efforts made by the government of  India ,LGBTQIA++ communities remain at risk of life-long mental illnesses and challenges,Comment