The Tamil Nadu government will now punish police officers who harass LGBTQIA+ people in a monumental step. The amendment is made to the Tamil Nadu Subordinate Police Officers' Conduct Rules, published in the gazette on Wednesday, February 16. The positive development has, possibly, made the state the first in the country to make this harassment a punishable offence by law.
The amendment comes in a year after the Madras High Court directed the state police force to refrain from troubling the LGBTQIA+ community and the NGOs and activists working for their welfare. The News Minute quotes the rule's Section 24-C that states, "No police officer shall indulge in any act of harassment of any person belonging to the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual) community and the persons working for the welfare of the community."
Madras HC's Landmark Judgment
The government issued the new order signed by SK Prabhakar, the state's additional chief secretary. The Madras High Court passed the landmark judgment in September 2021, when the police continuously harassed a same-sex couple. The incident came to light after they had ordered the police to give them protection.
In light of this, Justice N Anand Venkatesh issued a particular order to quell the harassment stemming out of sheer apathy. Therefore, the government was directed to add a specific clause in the rules as mentioned above. "The harassment does not include the right of police to inquire as per the procedure established by the law," The Indian Express quotes a part of the all-important order.
A Commendable Step
Several LGBTQIA+ members and activists have welcomed the recent amendment with open arms. Many have called it a 'significant' step in curbing systemic violence against the community. They urge the authorities to firmly implement the law to avoid such instances in the future.
A few unfortunate incidents have occurred in Tamil Nadu despite the judgment being passed. The News Minute reported that a person was apprehended by the police as he was fleeing from the city in the second week of February 2022. His family was forcing him into an arranged marriage, and following the continuous complaints, he was forced to reunite with his family.
In the same month, a same-sex couple in Chennai was 'scolded' by the city police when they sought protection from the family. The activists quickly sent a lawyer to fight for them as the police did not support the couple in the situation.