Government to probe psychiatrist for false LGBT claim
By Hans Nicholas Jong
March 24 2016
A renowned physician and member of the Indonesia Psychiatrists Association (PDSKJI), Fidiansjah made a statement that have been widely criticized by international medical circles as he paraphrased diagnostic guidelines to support his statements.
Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek said on Wednesday that she would ask for confirmation from Fidiansjah, who currently serves as the ministry’s mental health prevention and management director. The minister’s request was anticipated, especially after the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) had issued a warning to Fidiansjah.
“Yes, of course [I will summon Fidiansjah]. I will clarify [his statements] because I just read briefly [about them]. I believe I have to hear it completely first [from him],” she told The Jakarta Post.
Nila added that the ministry was still waiting for clarification from Fidiansjah before issuing an official stance on whether homosexuality and bisexuality can be classified as mental disorders.
The LBH Jakarta has reprimanded Fidiansjah after the latter had insisted that he “had spoken nothing but the truth” by labeling homosexuality and bisexuality mental disorders in a TV talkshow.
The LBH Jakarta said that the psychiatrist did not cite a complete explanation from the Mental Health and Mental Disorder Diagnostic Guidelines (PPDGJ) concerning sexually related mental disorders when he was asked to talk about sexual orientation from a medical perspective.
“He said homosexuality and bisexuality are prone to mental disorders, without further mentioning in the guidelines that [it explains] ‘sexual orientation itself cannot be categorized as a disorder’,” LBH Jakarta lawyer Veronica Koman told the Post on Wednesday.
The guidelines, in fact, said that any sexual orientation is prone to mental disorders.
Veronica said that Fidiansjah had violated Article 28F of the Constitution that guarantees the right to communicate and to obtain information. “His incomplete statement could deceive anyone who watched the show.”
Fidiansjah refused to heed the warning because “a psychiatrist has a responsibility to explain the truth to the public,” he claimed.
He admitted that he had only cited a piece of information from the guidelines due to “the restricted time of the show’s airtime”.
“The PDSKJI has scrutinized several changes in the guidelines, including the removal of a sentence that said ‘sexual orientation itself cannot be categorized as a disorder’,” he said.
He claimed that the association would further communicate with the Health Ministry, which has the authority to revise the guidelines.
In February, the PDSKJI labeled homosexuality and bisexuality as mental disorders, which it says can be cured through “proper treatment”. The claim has been widely criticized by the international community.
The PDSKJI’s plan to change the guidelines is against the stance of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA).
The WPA, representing more than 200,000 psychiatrists from 118 countries, including Indonesia, said it is wrong to view sexual orientation as a psychiatric problem.
“There is no sound scientific evidence that [a person’s] innate sexual orientation can be changed,” the WPA’s position statement states. “Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish and they can be potentially harmful,” the statement continued.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) responded to PDSKJI’s controversial decision on Mar. 8, by sending the PDSKJI a formal reprimand, saying the Indonesian association’s decision because it would only lead to coercive treatments and violence against people of LGBT orientation.
The APA itself removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973.