Madras HC Frames Guidelines for Recognition of Same-sex Relationships


The Madras High Court on Monday issued guidelines to be followed by the Central and state government for recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual persons by society. The change must take place at a societal level and when it is complemented by a law there would be a remarkable change in the outlook of the society by recognising same-sex relationships, Justice N Anand Venkatesh said.

The guidelines included those related to accommodation, state and central governments coming up with policies and measures for eliminating prejudice against the LGBTQIAs and sensitisation and awareness programmes. Any attempt to medically “cure” or change the sexual orientation of LGBTIQA+ people shall be prohibited.

Changes in curricula of schools and universities to educate students on LGBTQIAs shall be made. The term transgender in addition to Male and Female gender columns in application forms for various purposes shall be included, the court said. The judge was passing orders on a writ petition that brought the focus again on the need of de-stigmatisation and acceptance of such people by society.

Well ahead of passing orders, the judge had extensive discussions with experts to sensitise himself on the issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. The juge had also sent the parents of the petitioners who had same sex orientation, for counselling. But it did not yield the desired result, the judge said.

The petitioners, two young lesbian women who fled from Madurai and were living here with the support of an organisation, moved the court for a direction to police to not cause harassment. Also, they sought protection from threat or danger to them from their respective parents.

In his verdict, the judge expected the state, central authorities to implement the guidelines in letter and spirit not for complying with a judicial fiat but to ensure that the society evolved and the LGBTQIA+ community is not pushed out of the mainstream of society. Police, following complaint and on investigation, if they find that the persons -men or women- involved in the plaint were consenting adults belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, they shall close the complaint after getting their statements and without subjecting them to any harassment.

Complete information including contact details on NGOs with expertise on LGBTQIA issues should be hosted in the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment website and updated periodically.

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