Kasargod, May 17, 2020: A native of Kasaragod, Anjana Hareesh, also known as Chinnu Sulficker, was found dead in Goa on 12 May. She was 21 years old and a student of the Brennen College in Thalassery. A few days prior to the lockdown, Hareesh had left for Goa with friends for a week-long trip. They, however, ended up getting stuck in the state on account of the COVID-19 lockdown that ensued. Soon after, she was found dead near her resort. The police has filed a case of unnatural death, which is suspected to be a case of suicide. Additionally, a fresh conversation on queer rights has been sparked off after reports of Hareesh being sent to ’conversion therapy’ on coming out as bisexual surfaced.
A report by The News Minute states that the Kasaragod native had come out to her family some time ago, but they had not been supportive of her orientation. It adds that she was subjected to ’conversion therapy’ in an illegal attempt to ’cure’ her. The student had earlier revealed in a Facebook video that she had been forcibly taken to two ’de-addiction’ centres by her family, and had been physically attacked when she tried to explain to them that there was nothing wrong with her.
Hareesh was reportedly in touch with Sahayatrika, a humans rights organisation working for queer people in Kerala. A representative told TNM that they had tried to intervene when Hareesh was taken to the de-addiction centres, but the police wasn’t very helpful.
Following the news of Hareesh’s death, a Mumbai-based mental health professional implored the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists to "condemn all forms of conversion therapy and chart out guidelines for social justice informed ’affirmative practices’ about approaching persons with gender and sexual diversity" in a letter.