The Sunday Leader

Homosexuality In Sri Lanka: Taking Pills Or Talking?

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By Dr. Marcel de Roos (Psychologist PhD,

This ironical title refers to questions I once in a while have to answer in my psychology practice. Clients sometimes pretend to come to talk about a different matter and then the real issue is asked, or they call me by phone to preserve their anonymity. Clients have indeed asked me if there are pills to cure them from homosexuality. I have to explain to them that you are born with a heterosexual or homosexual nature; there is no ‘treatment’ for it.
In Sri Lanka there seems to be a big taboo on homosexuality. It isn’t seriously talked about and as a consequence it is often regarded as shameful or even immoral. This said, in many countries homosexuality is seen as a fact of life and even in some countries homosexuals lawfully have the right to marry.  Although it is difficult to get an accurate percentage (there are many methodological obstacles) researchers agree that the world wide prevalence of self-identified homosexuality is roughly 4%.

Nowadays researchers focus on biological explanations regarding why individuals have a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Those explanations are chiefly based on genetic factors and prenatal exposure to hormonal influences in the foetal brain.

It was a big turning point when in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (AMA) removed homosexuality as being a disorder from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). They stated that “homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities.” There is now a large body of research evidence that indicates that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment.

The AMA stated in 2006: “Currently, there is no scientific consensus about the specific factors that cause an individual to become heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual —  including possible biological, psychological, or social effects of the parents’ sexual orientation. However, the available evidence indicates that the vast majority of lesbian and gay adults were raised by heterosexual parents and the vast majority of children raised by lesbian and gay parents eventually grow up to be heterosexual”.

The Royal College of Psychiatrics stated in 2007: “Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice”.

Returning to the question raised in the title of this article (Homosexuality In Sri Lanka: Taking Pills Or Talking?) it is obvious that awareness and being able to talk freely about one’s sexual identity should be the preferred answer. On the internet there is an abundance of information but very often there is a need for personal contact. In Sri Lanka, there seems to be a long way to go in informing the general public about these matters.

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