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Madras HC’s historic verdict to end prejudice against LGBTQIA+ people

Updated on: 08 June,2021 07:48 AM IST  |  Chennai
Agencies |

Justice Anand Venkatesh bans medical ‘cure’ of members of the community, says onus on society to shed our notions and educate ourselves; high courts of Rajasthan and Allahabad issue orders in favour of live-in couples

Madras HC’s historic verdict to end prejudice against LGBTQIA+ people

Justice Anand Venkatesh had undergone an educational session with a psychologist to learn about same-sex relationships, before announcing the verdict. Representation pic

Monday, June 7, 2021, was marked by a series of landmark judgment and judicial orders upholding the right to liberty and privacy of citizens. In a historic order, the Madras High Court banned the medical ‘cure’ of the members of LGBTQIA+ people, in an attempt to end the discrimination against the community.

It also stated that it was the state’s duty to protect the LGBTQIA+ couples and that society needs to educate and change how they see the community, according to The Quint report. “Till the legislature comes up with an enactment, the LGBTQIA+ community cannot be left in a vulnerable atmosphere where there is no guarantee for their protection and safety,” the court said.

Society needs to change

“The actual problem is not the fact that the law does not recognise a relationship but that the sanction that is accorded by the society is not available. It is only for this reason, I strongly feel that the change must take place at a societal level and when it is complemented by law, there will be a remarkable change in the outlook of the society by recognising same-sex relationships.” The bench of Justice Anand Venkatesh, who was hearing a plea by a same-sex couple seeking protection from relatives, issued guidelines to educate the society about the LGBTQIA+ community, reported Bar and Bench.

In April, Justice Venkatesh had undergone an educational session with a psychologist to learn about same-sex relationships. He said the petitioners Vidya Dinakaran and Trinetra became his “gurus” and “pulled him out of the darkness of ignorance”. “It was I (us), who has to set off on a journey of understanding them and accepting them and shed our notions, and not they who have to turn themselves inside out to suit our notions of social morality and tradition.”

Also Read: Covid-19: Mumbai witnesses chaos on Day 1 of unlock

Bans medical ‘cure’

“Any attempts to medically “cure” or change the sexual orientation of LGBTIQA+ people to heterosexual or the gender identity of transgender people to cisgender should be prohibited... Action should be initiated against the concerned professional involving themselves in any form or method of conversion “therapy”, including withdrawal of license to practice,” the court said.

In direction to the police, the court said they must ensure members of the LGBTIQA+ couples are not harassed when their families file a missing person complaint. “Sensitisation programs are to be conducted for police personnel creating awareness about the Offences and Penalties as stipulated under Chapter VIII of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and compliance of Rule 11 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.”

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan High Court has directed the police to provide protection to a couple in a live-in relationship. A similar order was issued by the Allahabad High Court. 

The couple has alleged that they face threat to their lives as the woman’s parents and relatives are against their relationship. Instructing the police to provide protection to the couple, Rajasthan HC Justice Satish Kumar Sharma said, “It is well settled legal position as expounded by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in...that personal life and liberty has to be protected...” A couple had moved the Allahabad HC seeking a direction to restrain their families from interfering with their lives, reported Bar and Bench. A Division bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Jayant Banerji ordered, “Till the next date of listing, no one shall interfere in the peaceful living of the petitioners.”

Instructions for schools and colleges

>> Ensure availability of gender-neutral restrooms for the gender-nonconforming student
>> Change of name and gender on academic records for transgender persons
>> Inclusion of ‘transgender’ in addition to M and F gender columns in application forms for admission, competitive entrance exams, etc
>> Appointment of counsellors who are LGBTQIA+ inclusive, for the staffs and students to address grievances, if any, and to provide effective solutions for the same

Also Read: Pride Month: The most addictive queer podcasts you should listen to

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