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Madras High Court judgement on LGBTQIA+ Couples explained

Madras High Court judgement on LGBTQIA+ Couples explained

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  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Vulnerable Sections || Sexual Minorities

Why in the news?

Society Needs to Change, not the LGBTQIA+ Couple says Madras high court

The judgment:

By asking the Union and state governments to take the necessary measures to decrease prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community, the court held society responsible for eradicating prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community. – Recommending a list of education and awareness-raising programs.

Other Suggestions by Madras court:

  • The Madras high court proposed prohibiting health practitioners from seeking to medically ‘cure or transform’ LGBTIQA+ people’s sexual orientation to heterosexuality or transgender people’s gender identification to cisgender.
  • The court also ordered the National Medical Commission, Indian Psychiatric Society, and Rehabilitation Council of India to take action against practitioners who engage in any form or manner of conversion ‘therapy’ to LGBTIQA+ community members, including revocation of their licenses to practice.

Who is LGBTQ?

  • LGBTQ are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and such others

Difficulties faced by LGBTQIA+ community in India:

  • No Legal Recognition for their marriage: Same sex-marriages are not legally recognized in India
  • Inadequate health-care services: Criminalizing homosexuality leads to discrimination and, as a result, LGBTQ persons have limited or no access to health-care services.
  • Deprived of rights: Same-sex couples do not have the same rights as opposite-sex spouses.
  • Racial prejudice: Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons face social and racial prejudice.

Why are LGBTIQA rights important?

  • Everyone should be able to feel proud of who they are and who they love.
  • Bringing an end to homophobia and transphobia will save lives.
  • By embracing LGBTI people and understanding their identities, we can learn how to remove many of the limitations imposed by gender stereotypes.
  • LGBTI people, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people, are often at risk of economic and social exclusion.

Historical facts- Why is June month special for LGBTQ?

  • Every June, the world commemorates Pride Month in recognition of community members who have overcome adversity and have made significant progress. It also shows how far homosexual rights have progressed and how much more work remains.
  • Every year on June 28th, Global Pride Day is commemorated. To commemorate this day, colorful parades, concerts, and marches are organized all across the world. However, because the country is still battling the COVID-19 outbreak, the celebrations may be virtual.
  • The LGBTQ community and supporters have fought for equal rights to create families, marry, adopt children, resist discrimination and hate speech, and simply exist as they are.
  • The Stonewall riots of 1969 were a trigger for the Pride movement. Previously, the American Constitution outlawed homosexuality, and police would frequently raid LGBT clubs and harass their patrons. The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was one such target of New York cops.
  • However, on June 28, 1969, the entire LGBT community fought back and delivered a suitable response to those in authority, tired of everyday horrors. The demonstration lasted many days, and people from all around the world came out to show their support. This battle resulted in a world-wide revolution.
  • In the same year, the first official Pride march was held to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, and it has become a tradition ever then. Many attribute the Stonewall riots for the rights the LGBTQ+ community holds.

Case study-

  • A lesbian couple from Madurai who opted to live together as a married pair. Faced with opposition from their families, they went to Chennai and sought asylum with a non-governmental organization.
  • As police continued to visit them in response to their parents’ concerns, the two had petitioned the high court to stop them from being harassed by officers.
  • Orders of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh: Justice N. Anand Venkatesh ordered the Ministry to submit the details of the NGOs, including their address, contact information, and services given, on its website within eight weeks and to update the information on a regular basis.
  • Any individual facing a problem because he or she is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community can seek help from any of the mentioned NGOs, according to the court.
  • It was also mandated that NGOs keep confidential records of those who approached them in collaboration with the Ministry, and that the aggregate data be reported to the Ministry bi-annually.
  • In addition to providing need-based relief to victims, the court stated that NGOs should communicate with the authorities in the case of crimes perpetrated against them.
  • The judge stated that anytime the police get man/woman missing reports from parents or relatives of LGBTQIA+ individuals, the police should drop the case after getting testimonies from the pair concerned that they were living together of their own free will.
  • He also said that no harassment of consenting individuals will be tolerated. The court cited a book on animal homosexuality by Canadian researcher Bruce Bagemihl, claiming that same-sex conduct has been seen in over 450 species of animals throughout the world.
  • Emphasizing the importance of society accepting the LGBTQIA+ group, he stated, “The voice of this group is now becoming louder and stronger, and society can no longer turn a deaf ear.””

Legal rights of LGBTQ:

  • The Supreme Court (SC) decriminalized homosexuality: By striking down portions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that were found to be in violation of the LGBTQ community’s fundamental rights.
  • Article 14 of the Constitution: Ensures equality before the law, which applies to all classes of people, restoring the LGBTQ community’s “inclusiveness.”
  • Articles 14, 15(1), 15(2), 16(2), 19(1), 21 and 41 of the Indian Constitution: Provide equality, freedom, justice, and dignity to all citizens and implicitly demand an inclusive society for everyone, including transgender people.
  • Laws Related to LGBT: Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 and then 2019.
  • Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018): In this case the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Penal Code, 1860 was questioned. On 6th September, 2018 the five-judge Bench partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalising same-sex relations between consenting adults.

Initiative taken by government:

  • In the NALSA decision, the Supreme Court declared transgender people to be a lawful third gender and urged the government to treat them equally.
  • Odisha was the first state to provide transgender persons with social welfare benefits such as a pension, housing, and food grains, which are often reserved for the poorest of the poor.
  • “SWEEKRUTI” is an umbrella programme created by the Odisha government that would be run as a mission with many goals. To guarantee that transgender people are treated fairly in the legal system.
  • Garima Greh: It has launched in Vadodara, Gujarat, and will be administered in collaboration with the Lakshya Trust, a transgender-led community-based organization. Shelter, food, clothes, recreational facilities, skill development opportunities, yoga, physical training, library facilities, legal help, and technical advice for transgender people are all part of the ‘Shelter Home for Transgender People’ scheme.

Way forward:

We are now in a position to comprehend how numerous court declarations will affect the future of the LGBT rights movement in India, after such a detailed debate of the growth of the LGBT rights movement in India and the importance of various court pronouncements. To guarantee that the LGBTQ population is not refused public services or mistreated because of their sexual orientation, government entities, particularly those associated with health and law and order, must be sensitized and made aware of the changing legal situation.

Mains oriented question:

Explain the rights of LGBTQ community and comment on the India’s official position on the same-sex marriage at national level. (200 words)