Stating that the LGBTQIA+ community cannot be left in a vulnerable environment until the legislature comes up, the Madras High Court on Monday, June 7, issued a slew of guidelines that will guarantee their safety and protection.
In a 107-page historic judgment, the Madras High Court aimed at mainstreaming the LGBTQIA+ community by prohibiting attempts to 'medically cure" persons belonging to the community, recommending awareness programmes for judicial officers, police, and prison officers as well as providing gender-neutral bathrooms for non-gender conforming students.
Justice Anand Venkatesh, who issued the order on a plea from a lesbian couple whose relationship was opposed by their parents, said. "Ignorance is no justification for normalising any form of discrimination."
After the couple fled Madurai and came to Chennai, the petitioners' families had filed a missing complaint with the police, eventually leading to the registration of FIRs. The couple was called for interrogation and later they filed a plea in the court seeking protection.
Stating that the LGBTQIA+ persons have a right to lead a dignified existence, which includes their choice of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender representation, gender expression, and choice of partner thereof, the court said, "The right and manner of its exercise are constitutionally protected under Article 21 of the Constitution."
The judge also asked the government departments to implement the guidelines to ensure that the LGBTQIA+ community members are not pushed out of mainstream society. Tamil Nadu will be the first state to ban 'conversion therapy'.
If police, while inquiring into any missing persons complaint, finds that the case involves consenting adults belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, they shall close the complaint without subjecting them to any harassment, the court instructed, reported The Indian Express.
Before issuing the order, Justice Venkatesh had sought one-month-long education in April with a psychologist and members of the community to have a better understanding of their issue and deliver an informed judgment.
LGBTQ Community Delighted
Delighted by the judgment, Kalki Subramanyam, Activist and Founder of Sahodari Foundation, told The Logical Indian, "We are really happy with the order. Now the Central and state governments should enact a law in Parliament and Assemblies in order protection to the LGBTQIA+ community."
Kalki's foundation has been working to empower underprivileged transwomen by providing counselling and support sessions to make them financially independent.
Kalki said that though this an order given by the court, it is usually seen that many of the orders are not implemented. "The government should enact a law as soon as possible. In 2014, the Supreme Court had granted recognition to transgender persons as the third category of gender, but nothing has happened in this regard."
She also said that after a decision with fellow activists, they might move to courts, requesting it to ask the government to create a law for the protection of the LGBTQIA+ community and transgender persons.
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