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The Capital's legendary sex clinic promises a 'cure' for homosexuality.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Other than gonorrhea, syphilis, impotency, night discharge, the city's legendary gupt-rog clinic discreetly claims to cure gay men of their homosexuality.
Sablok Clinic, in its own words, is one of the "oldest and most authentic sex clinic." Established by Mr Hakim Hari Singh Sablok in 1928 at Lahore, it shifted to Delhi after the Indian partition.
Since then by advertising itself with pictures of happy-looking straight couples, Sablok clinic has grown to be a part of Delhi's landscape.
One afternoon I met sexologist Dr Vinod Sablok (FRSH, UK), the late founder's son, in his slickly designed first floor clinic at Daryaganj and introduced myself as a gay man tormented by man-to-man orientation. I said that my approaching wedding is making me nervous since I like having sex with men, not women.
Dr Sablok immediately asked me to unzip.
After examining my you-know-what with a magnifying lens, the venerable doctor assured me of full recovery. I was told that at the end of a month-long treatment, costing Rs 5,500, I would start desiring women, not men.
It happens only in India? Not really.
Not in India alone is homosexuality perceived as an illness curable through medicines and therapy sessions. It was only 34 years ago that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Pentagon continued with that classification as late as 2006 when it moved the 'illness' to a list of conditions ranging from bed-wetting to fear of flying.
Delhi's Dr Sablok shares the distinguished rank of those crazed medical practitioners worldwide who have been tirelessly attempting to cure the homosexuals of homosexuality.
In the 1920s, medical researchers in Germany implanted testicles from corpses into the bodies of gay men. Electric shocks and hallucinogenic drugs were other popular treatments. In contrast, Dr Sablok's remedy is pretty painless—one-month expensive medication and every gay in town could strut his stuff for a girl.
"It's all bogus," says Mr Rahul Singh, gay rights activist who works with the Naz Foundation at Kailash Colony. "People want to cash on to the insecurity of gays who are socially uncomfortable with their identity", he says.
I also talked to Mr Ashok Row Kavi, UNAIDS Consultant and perhaps India's most famous gay rights activist. "There is a whole branch of psychiatry in India that still believes that homosexuality is curable through 'aversion therapy'," he says. "Gay men are given electric shocks after showing them pictures of naked males and subsequently given chocolates/mithai after being shown photos of naked women."
This whole 'therapy' is driven by market sources where parents bring in their single male children to the 'mental health specialist', say a couple of months before marriage, when the son complains that he is not sexually aroused by women.
Mr Kavi noted that one has to be careful with quacks as so many are homosexual themselves. "One such man eloped with the handsome patient he was supposed to cure," he says.
Whether Mr Sablok himself is homosexual is something I cannot claim with confidence. His face remained expressionless when I took out my you-know-what.
Where Near Golcha Cinema, Daryaganj Ph 23278787 Website sablokclinic.com
Straight & Sablok-ed