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'Serious Issue' : Kerala High Court Directs Medical Education Board To Look Into Queerphobic MBBS Course Content

Hannah M Varghese
7 Sep 2021 7:00 AM GMT
Serious Issue : Kerala High Court Directs Medical Education Board To Look Into Queerphobic MBBS Course Content
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Undergraduate Medical Education Board to act on a representation made by two NGOs representing the queer community seeking the removal of discriminatory and inhuman references about the LGBTQIA community in MBBS textbooks.A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly orally remarked that this was a "serious issue"...

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Undergraduate Medical Education Board to act on a representation made by two NGOs representing the queer community seeking the removal of discriminatory and inhuman references about the LGBTQIA community in MBBS textbooks.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly orally remarked that this was a "serious issue" and directed the Undergraduate Medical Education Board to take immediate action on the petition.

Before doing so, the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board was also directed to obtain the remarks and views of the Kerala University of Health Sciences, Thrissur. Such exercise shall be done within 8 weeks, the Court ruled.

The Kerala University of Health Sciences, Thrissur was directed to provide its remarks and views with respect to the grievances of the petitioners and send the same to the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board, New Delhi, so as to enable it to pass appropriate orders within the stipulated time.

The Court disposed of the PIL with the above directions.

The plea was filed by two NGOs named "Queerythm" and "Dhisha".  Advocate Legith T. Kottakkal represented the petitioners in the matter.

They primarily challenged the curriculum and contents of the medical textbooks. 

The petition was aimed at exposing the infringement on their fundamental and constitutional rights of the sexual minority group of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender commonly referred to as the LGBTQ community.

The petitioner organizations were aggrieved by the discriminatory remarks and inhuman references used in the medical textbooks prescribed for Medical Courses in India which stereotypes the Queer community's sexual or gender identities as an offence, mental disorder or perversion.

"Such references are made in the textbooks despite the fact that the queer community's rights are recognized by the Supreme Court of India and decriminalized homosexual sex between consenting adults," they had contended. 

They also argued that remarks stereotyping the queer community in an inhuman way infringe their right to have dignified life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and also discriminates against the queer community from the social order thereby violate Article 14 of the Constitution. 

The petitioner organizations submitted that they had forwarded a representation before the respondents to revise the textbooks and to cure the disability committed against the queer community, but was not responded till this date.

The plea stated that the research wing of the petitioner organizations, thereupon, taking up the cause of the students, made detailed research among the medical textbooks prescribed for studies and references under the Kerala University of Health Sciences. 

Pursuant to such research, they came to understand that many textbooks under the university were perpetuating queerphobia, providing unscientific data and contains inhuman, derogatory remarks against the transgender community and sexual minorities.

It was also submitted that the executive members of the petitioner organizations had occasions to interact with medical students from the queer communities.

While so, the students had pointed out that the medical textbooks studied by them are highly queerphobic. They also pointed out the instances wherein they were victimized and bullied by peer groups for expressing their gender or sexual orientations. Due to this victimization and fear of being victimized students from the queer community pursuing medical education are unable to reveal their identity, the petitioners submitted.

Recently, the Madras High Court had also called for the revamp of the MBBS curriculum to avoid stereotypical references about the LGBTQIA community.

Case Title: Queerythm & Anr. v. National Medical Commission & Ors

Click Here To Read/Download The Petition

Click Here To Read/Download The Order





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