Conversion Therapy: Conversion of Identity

“On the night of 24th December, my family put me in a car at Kannur Railway station. They were taking me to Coimbatore. My arm was already bleeding. In Coimbatore, I was taken to a doctor named N. S Moni. I tried my utmost to convince the doctor that I was not sick, that I had no problems, that I am okay. But they still put me under sedatives. I tried to resist this as much as I could. But they hit me on my ear with the implement which was being used to sedate me, and I fell. I was forced to take sedatives and I don't know what happened after that. When I woke up I was in a deaddiction and mental health centre. After 3 weeks, I was taken to another centre in Trivandrum. I was given some 40 injections in this period. Even after I was brought back home, I could not tolerate that my own family did this to me. The ones who were supposed to protect me tortured me so much. After this, I left home with the help of some friends.”

On 12 May, Anjana Hareesh was found dead in Goa.

(The above words were some excerpts of what she spoke in a Facebook live video on March 13, 2020)

Anjana Hareesh was a 21-year-old student and LGBTQ+ activist from Kerala. She came out as a bisexual to her parents, soon after which she was forced into what is called, 'conversion therapy.” This was to force her 'un-become' what she really was with layers of processes. For instance, she was medicated for months which not only affected her physically but the eventual depression that ended into she taking her life. The postmortem report certifies the cause of her death as asphyxia. Superintendent Police, North Goa tells this the case of suicide due to hanging.

Conversion Therapy is the pseudo-scientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions. This has been around since the 19th century. According to a report by, Germany is the 5th nation to ban conversion therapy for minors, following Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan. In the United States, 20 states and a number of cities have banned the practice. In India, though it is not banned but the apex court referred to the anti-discriminatory provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act,2017 to observe that homosexuality is not a mental illness or disorder which eventually led to the scrapping of section 377 of IPC. Therefore, "logically" speaking conversion therapies also cannot work simply because sexuality is not a disease to be cured.

The incident has led to a wave of outrage not only among the community but among every advocate of humanism. This very incident is just a baked cake with ingredients of our casual judgments, bullying, not accepting or mocking on their identity. Imagine you are not accepted for being a boy or a girl or a straight person. Every person deserves basic dignity and respect and queerphobia takes that away from them. This may turn dire for them. We need to remember that what we have with us so easily and subtly that is our identity and existence that we don't even realize. For it, they fight every day of their lives. Their existence is revolutionary.


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