The Madras high court suggested a ban on health professionals from attempting to medically ‘cure or change’ the sexual orientation of LGBTIQA+ people to heterosexual or the gender identity of transgender people to cisgender. The court also directed National Medical Commission, Indian Psychiatric Society and Rehabilitation Council of India to take action, including withdrawal of licence to practice, against professionals involved in any form or method of conversion “therapy” to LGBTIQA+ members.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh laid down a slew of guidelines covering issues ranging from gender-neutral restrooms for the gender-nonconforming student and help to change name/gender on academic records for transgender persons, besides suggesting separate jails for transsexuals.
These are among the directives issued by Justice Anand Venkatesh, who chose to undergo ‘psycho-education’ under qualified counsellors to understand same-sex relationship issues, before writing the 125-page verdict.
The case relates to a Madurai-based lesbian couple, aged 23 and 20 years, who chose to live as a married couple. Facing resistance from their families, they fled to Chennai and took refuge with an NGO. As police continued to visit them following complaints lodged by their parents, the two had moved the high court to restrain cops from harassing them.
Justice Anand Venkatesh said: “The voice of this community is now getting louder and stronger and society can no more turn a deaf ear and the time has come to make that change.”
Noting that he himself was “pulled out of darkness (ignorance)” by two counsellors he had interacted with, the judge said: “The society and my upbringing have always treated the terms ‘homosexual’, ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ as anathema. A majority of the society would stand in the same position of ignorance and preconceived notions.”
He said: “I have no hesitation in accepting that I too belong to the majority of commoners who are yet to comprehend homosexuality completely. Ignorance is no justification for normalizing any form of discrimination. Therefore, I took upon myself, the vested responsibility and the duty to deliver justice in all its forms and spirit, of cutting across personal prejudices and notions and setting forth to, at the least, educate myself lest my ignorance interfere with in guiding homosexuality and the LGBTQIA+ community towards social justice.”
He said police probing man/ girl missing complaints should close them without harassing the members, if they find out that the person concerned is a consenting individual in the company of LGBTIQA+. He also suggested the Union and state governments effect change in curricula to educate students.
The voice of this community (LGBTIQA+) is getting louder and stronger and society can no more turn a deaf ear. The time has come to make that change…
I have no hesitation in accepting that I too belong to the majority of commoners who are yet to comprehend homosexuality completely. Ignorance is no justification for normalising any form of discrimination — JUSTICE N ANAND VENKATESH of Madras HC