Hindu 'Bride' Refers Not Just Someone Born As Woman But Also Transsexual, Rules Madras HC
The Madras High Court in a ruling on Monday, April 22, held that as per the Hindu Marriage Act, the term ‘bride’ would not only refer to someone who was born as a woman, but would also refer to a transsexual. The state government was also ordered by the court to issue an order that would ban sex reassignment surgeries on inter-sex infants and children.
‘Bride’ does not only refer to a ‘woman on her wedding day’
Quoting from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, and also Supreme Court judgements, Justice GR Swaminathan said that in the Hindu Marriage Act, the word ‘bride’ could not have an inflexible or rigid meaning. Authorities were further directed by the judge to register a marriage between Arun Kumar and a transwoman Sreeja, holding that the expression would not only have to refer to a woman.
The couple, whose marriage was held in a temple in Tuticorin, moved the court after their marriage was refused to be registered by the registration department. The government’s contention that the registrar of marriages was empowered to refuse the registration on the grounds that the statutory requirement of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act was not met by the couple, was also rejected by Justice Swaminathan. Section 5 says that the expression ‘bride’ can only refer to a ‘woman on her wedding day.’
The judge, in this regard, also referred to the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement which gave transgender persons the right to decide their self-identified gender, reported The Times of India.
Sex reassignment surgeries to be banned
Transgender people regularly battle social stigma and often have to leave their homes. Keeping in mind the ordeal they have to go through, the Tamil Nadu government was directed by Justice Swaminathan to issue a Government Order in order to ban sex reassignment surgeries on intersex infants and children.
According to him, sustained awareness campaigns should be launched by the government, which must take up the responsibility to encourage parents, so that they are not embarrassed or ashamed of giving birth to an intersex child.
“Any intersex child is entitled to stay within the folds of its family. The running away to the margins and beyond is a fatal journey that must be arrested. Time has come when they are brought back from margins to the mainstream,” Justice Swaminathan said.
The judge said that in the present case, since they were also an inter-caste couple, they were eligible to receive financial incentive under the Dr BR Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter-caste marriages.
With the ordeal that transexual people have to fight each day to survive in a society where scores of people still discriminate them, Madras High Court’s ruling is a positive step towards giving them a better life.