In S. Sushma v. Commissioner of Police, the Court has also suggested comprehensive measures to sensitise the society and various branches of the State including Police and judiciary to remove prejudices against LGBTQIA+ community.
By: Nidhi N. Anand, Ramaiah College of Law
The Madras High Court has recommended comprehensive measures to sensitise the society and numerous branches of the State along with Police and judiciary to eliminate prejudices against LGBTQIA+ community and to make sure that they’re delivered into the mainstream of the society.
Towards this end, the Court advised that modifications be made to curricula of schools and universities to train students on information about the LGBTQIA + community. The Court additionally ordered strict action against those observed to be indulging in tries to cure/change sexual orientation.
The judgment was rendered by Justice N Anand Venkatesh on a plea by a lesbian couple seeking protection from their relatives. Some of the significant directions by the Court are as follows:
Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meetings should be used to make the parents aware and make them understand about the LGBTQIA+ community and gender non confirming students leading to supportive families. Further, the necessary amendments must be made to policies and resources to include students belonging to LGBTQIA+ community in all spheres of school and college life.
Certain ways to ensure this were by ensuring availability of gender-neutral restrooms for the gender-nonconforming student, by including ‘transgender’ in addition to M and F gender columns in application forms for admission, competitive entrance exams etc.
Holding awareness programs for judicial officers of all levels in coordination with NGO’s and to provide suggestions/ recommendations to ensure non-discrimination of persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Police and Prison authorities:
Prevention of crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community by holding awareness programs at regular intervals, conduct sensitization about legal rights of LGBTQIA+ community at regular intervals, ensure that transgender and gender-nonconforming prisoners are housed separately from cis-men prisoners to eliminate chances of sexual assault by the latter on the former.
Besides the above, the Court also issued the following interim directions:
A. The police, on receipt of any complaint regarding girl/woman/man missing cases which upon enquiry/ investigation is found to involve consenting adults belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, shall upon receipt of their statements, close the complaint without subjecting them to any harassment.
B. The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE), should enlist Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) including community-based groups which have sufficient expertise in handling the issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.
The list of such NGOs along with the address, contact details, and services provided should be published and revised periodically on the official website.
C. Any person who faces an issue for the reason of their belongingness to the LGBTQIA+ community may approach any of the enlisted NGOs for safeguarding and protecting their rights.
D. The concerned NGO in consultation with the MSJE, shall maintain confidential records of such persons who approach the enlisted NGOs and the aggregate data shall be provided to the concerned Ministry bi-annually.
E. Such problems should be addressed with the best-suited method depending on the facts and circumstances of each case be it counselling, monetary support, legal assistance with the support of District Legal Services Authority, or to co-ordinate with law enforcement agencies about offenses committed against any persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community.