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In a first, the Orissa High Court allowed a same-sex couple to continue living with her partner, extending the protection of domestic violence law to the woman partner and stating that human beings, irrespective of gender identities, are entitled to the full enjoyment of their rights.
A division bench of Justice SK Mishra and Justice Savitri Ratho pronounced the order on a habeas corpus petition (through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court) filed by one of the partners, seeking production of the other before the court.
"The state shall provide all kinds of protection to them, including right to life, right to equality before law and equal protection of law," said the bench.
Petitioner Chinmayee Jena alias Sonu Krishna Jena had filed a habeas corpus application under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution seeking production of her woman partner, alleging that she was being kept away by her mother and uncle, reported Hindustan Times.
The petitioner also told the court that her partner's mother and uncle were forcing her to get married.
The petitioner exercised her rights to self-gender determination under the Supreme Court's 2014 verdict in the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) case and preferred to be addressed as "he". His case was that both he and his partner are adults, and belonging to the same gender are not competent to enter into wedlock but still have the right to live together.
Justice SK Mishra, who headed the bench, ruled that the duo has the right to decide on their sexual preference and directing the Jajpur superintendent of police to ensure that the partner gets to join the petitioner in Bhubaneswar.
Justice Savitri Ratho said that freedom of choice was available to the two, who have decided to live together.
"The society should support their decision. We hope and trust that the duo will lead a happy and harmonious life," Justice Ratho added.
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