Date

2018

Department or Program

Women's and Gender Studies

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Nancy Marshall

Abstract

This paper aims to understand the legal, colonial and religious contexts of gay and lesbian mental health in India. In contemporary Indian society, mental health has been a rising problem in the homosexual community, with more and more queer individuals suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation. This paper connects the problem of declining mental health in the queer community to three main factors: Indian laws affecting the queer community, British colonialism of India, and the religion of Hinduism. It tries to understand the impact that each of these factors had on the mental health status of the Indian queer community by referring to past research, as well as getting the perspective of seven interviewees who either work in LGBTQIA related NGOs, or serve as LGBTQIA activists. This paper concluded that British colonialism had a considerable impact on the mental health status of queer people living in India today, by shaping Indian law, as well as the perception of sexuality in the public domain. In terms of Indian law, homophobic legislation such as Section 377 and the Criminal Tribes Act criminalized the behaviors and identities of sexual minorities, thereby leading to a history of queer persecution. However, Hinduism did not play much of a role in affecting the treatment or mental status of the queer community in modern day India.

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