A 21-year-old who said she was repeatedly forced into gay conversion therapy by her family has died by suicide
A 21-year-old queer woman from Kerala, India has died by suicide after her family forced her into multiple conversion therapy facilities, where she was reportedly heavily medicated against her will.
Chinnu Sulfikar was found dead in Goa on May 12. According to Hindustan Times Nolasco Raposo, a police inspector of the Calangute police station, confirmed that she had died by suicide.
Sulfikar had recently come out to her family as bisexual, and they had not taken it well.
In an effort to change her sexual orientation she had been forced into multiple “de-addiction centres” over the course of three months by her family, she had said in a Facebook video in March.
She said that at theses centres, she was put on heavy medication without consent.
Queer woman went to Goa with friends after conversion therapy ordeal.
Sulfikar had travelled to Goa with three friends on March 21, but was trapped there after coronavirus lockdown was imposed three days later. Some time later she went missing, before being found dead.
Her friend told the publication that she had been undergoing treatment for depression before she was forced into the conversion therapy facilities.
Although conversion therapy is not illegal in India, the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 — which came into effect in July 2018 — states that adults cannot be forced into psychiatric care without their express consent, unless it is determined that they lack the capacity to make decisions or pose a danger to themselves and others.
Psychiatrist Soumitra Pathare said: “While no provision outlaws conversion therapy, it is a clear violation of the Act.”
The Indian Psychiatric Association released a statement in 2018 to clarify that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.
It said: “Based on existing scientific evidence and good practice guidelines from the field of psychiatry, Indian Psychiatric Society would like to state that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease.”
The co-founder of Sahayatrika in Kerala, an organisation that works with queer women and trans men, said: “Parents of queer or trans people often send them to psychiatrists or psychologists to ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to make them ‘normal’.
“We have seen this practice in many of our crisis interventions.”
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