Maharashtra Psychiatrist With Over 1 Million YouTube Followers Says Homosexuality Is A Disease, Inquiry Launched

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Maharashtra Psychiatrist With Over 1 Million YouTube Followers Says Homosexuality Is A Disease, Inquiry Launched

Since launching his YouTube channel in November 2011, Dr Deepak Kelkar has posted over 1,000 videos in which he gives psychiatric advice on multiple topics.

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Eminent psychiatrist from Maharashtra Dr Deepak Kelkar has created a controversy on his YouTube channel after he termed homosexuality a disease and asserted that medicines and conversion therapy could cure it.

Following the controversial statement, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), an umbrella body of nearly 8000 psychiatrists in India, initiated an inquiry against its member Kelkar.

The five-member inquiry committee follows a complaint by Dr Prasad Dandekar, a radiation oncologist from Mumbai and co-founder of Mumbai Seenagers, an organisation that helps LGBTQ+ community members above 55 years old to socialise in a safe environment. In his email, Dandekar wrote that the LGBT task force of IPS makes an effort to sensitise healthcare professionals and the general public about the LGBTQ+ community. Despite this, Dr Kelkar actively violated the IPS' stand on homosexuality.

He stated that it jeopardises the credibility of the IPS statement and spreads illegal, non-scientific information for financial gains.

The email added that the Madras High Court banned the practice of conversion therapy in India in June 2021, while the National Medical Commission (NMC) also slammed it as pseudoscience and confirmed that anyone practising it is liable for professional misconduct.

Launched in November 2011, Kelkar has over 1.17 million followers on his YouTube channel. He has posted over 1000 videos in which he gives psychiatric advice on multiple topics. In several such videos – the latest on January 3, 2022 – the psychiatrist claims that he has "cured" homosexuals and prescribes erectile dysfunction tablets to men who are "attracted to other men". In another video posted in November 2019, Kelkar claims that he can use hypnotherapy, visualisation and self-suggestion techniques to "reorient a male homosexual" for him to marry a woman, Hindustan Times reported.

Propagating Non-Scientific Myths

Dandekar, who, along with IPS, was instrumental in the scrapping of section 377 of the IPC, said Dr Kelkar is propagating non-scientific myths in his videos, such as the origin of homosexuality.

Dr Amrit Pattojoshi, executive member of IPS and its LGBTQ task force coordinator, will coordinate the investigation against Kelkar. "We got the complaint from Dr Dandekar, who told us about videos Dr Kelkar uploaded on YouTube about conversion therapy. Within no time, our president Dr NN Raju decided to form an internal committee to investigate the matter thoroughly," Pattojoshi said. He added that no therapy or treatment that promises the reversal of sexuality is scientific.

The five-member IPS committee includes Dr Tophan Pati, heading the committee, Mumbai's Dr Sanjay Kumawat, Dr Suresh Bada Math from NIMHANS, Dr Vishal Chhabra from New Delhi and Pune's Dr Jyoti Shetty, who will act as convenor.

"All kinds of treatment or therapy that Dr Kelkar mentioned as a cure for homosexuality, including individual psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, behavioural therapy, physical therapy and pharmacotherapy, are unscientific. We do not encourage them as a society," Pattajoshi said.

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court scrapped section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised gay sex. IPS had played a critical role in issuing a statement that said homosexuality is not an illness.

Dr Avinash Desousa, president of Bombay Psychiatric Society and a member of IPS, said that societies have been working tirelessly to sensitise masses on working with the LGBTQ community.

"Section 377 was struck down after IPS submitted a letter to the court saying homosexuality is not an illness. We have put many efforts in dealing with gender dysphoria certification issues by holding continuous medical education sessions, and writing books on the subject. Conversion therapy is unscientific and unacceptable," he said.

Kelkar's Videos Against Country's Laws

Dandekar, who is also contemplating legal action against Dr Kelkar, pointed the videos by the psychiatrist on homosexuality is against the country's science, laws and morality.

"Dr Kelkar is a pass out from NIMHANS and worked at PGIMER (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research) at Chandigarh, the apex institutes in India. He is a renowned psychiatrist. His videos about homosexuality as an illness and conversion therapy to treat it, are damaging and unscientific. The LGBTQ community living in non-metro areas are already oppressed. Parents will be flocking to him looking for treatment. He is proudly presenting success stories. It is a severe matter that needs to be dealt with at the earliest," he said.

Dandekar also runs Health Professionals for Queer Indians (HPQI), an initiative working on sensitising medical professionals for the healthcare needs of the LGBTQ+ community. He said a few doctors take an extreme position on homosexuality.

"At HPQI, we are working on sensitising medical professionals. Dr Kelkar's blatant comment on homosexuality as illness goes against our efforts in creating awareness in society," he said.

Also Read: Pehle Padhai Phir Shaadi! Bharat Matrimony Launches Social Campaign To Encourage Girls Choose Education Over Marriage

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Writer : Tashafi Nazir
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