What are the rights of LGBTQ+ persons with respect to mental health?

Last updated on Jun 16, 2022

Trigger Warning: The following content contains information on mental health issues which some readers may find disturbing.

Not being a straight person/cisgendered is not grounds for being diagnosed with a mental disorder. This means merely being a LGBTQ+ person does not make someone mentally ill.((National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India & Ors. (AIR 2014 SC 1863 )). However, when a person experience significant distress due to the difference between the gender  assigned at birth and gender that they identify with, they may be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder.((ICD.Codes, ICD-10-CM Code F64.8, https://icd.codes/icd10cm/F648; Section 2(s), Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 )).

In India, an LGBTQ+ have some rights with respect to mental health:

  • A person cannot be categorised as mentally ill merely if they do not conform to the moral, social, cultural, work or political values or religious beliefs of the community.((Section 3 (3), Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 )) For example, a person is not mentally ill just because they are gay.
  • A person has a right to mental healthcare services offered by mental healthcare establishments funded/run by the government((Section 18 (1), Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 )).
  • Healthcare services cannot be denied to anyone, as referred to above, on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, etc.((Section 18 (2), Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 )).

If a person faces any discrimination while accessing medical or psychological healthcare, they can take action to alleviate the problem. Read for more options in our explainer “What are the options if there is discrimination and harassment by medical personnel against LGBTQ+ persons?“.

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