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Key Takeaways

  • • In S.Sushma&anr Vs Commission of Police & ors., petitioners are a lesbian couple whose relationship is being opposed by their parents.
  • • The couple approached the Court seeking an order prohibiting the police from harassing them and protection from any form of threat or danger to their safety.
  • • Various guidelines and suggestions were made by the court to protect the people belonging to LGBTQ community.
  • • The Judge described himself as "not totally awake" and said he was among India's majority who "have yet to truly appreciate homosexuality."

S Sushma & Another Vs Commission Of Police And Others

A writ petition was filed under Article 226of the Indian Constitution for issuing a writ of mandamus directing police to inquire and instruct the petitioner’s parent not to interfere in her life.

Facts of the Case

Petitioners are a lesbian couple whose relationship is being opposed by their parents. They fled to Chennai from their respective houses in Madurai. The couple with the support of the NGOs and people belonging to the LGBTQIA community was able to get accommodation and protection. They both were in search of employment to sustain themselves. Parents of the petitioners filed separate missing complaints. As a result, two FIRs were registered.

After being interrogated by the police at their home and fearing for their safety, the couple came to the Court seeking an order prohibiting the police from harassing them and protection from any form of threat or danger to their safety.

The court interacted with the parents of the petitioners individually and requested the mediation centre to enable one-to-one interaction between the parents and their daughters. The court referred them to a counselor who specializes in LGBTQIA individuals. The Court had a prima facie view that the parties will strive towards a peaceful resolution. The parents were assured that the current status quo would be maintained and that the Petitioners would continue to be protected by the organization. The parent's only condition was that they be able to interact with their daughters regularly to which the petitioners agreed. C

According to the psychologist (based on 1st counseling session),

  • Both the petitioners properly understand the relationship they have entered into and have no doubts about it. They fear being coerced into separation.
  • On the other hand, parents were more concerned about the stigma linked to the relationship in society and the repercussions it may entail on their family. Parents would prefer that their daughters live a life of celibacy, which they believe is more honorable than having a spouse of the same sex.

It is brought to the Court's attention that, despite the Court's orders, the police have failed to close the FIR.

After the second session, no change was noticed in the attitude of the parents. Even though they couldn't accept their daughter's relationship, one of the parents had the heart to let her live her life alone.

Guidelines Issued by the Court

After hearing both sides, the court issued the following guidelines-

  • When the police get a report about a missing girl, woman, or man, and the investigation reveals that the case involves consenting adults from the LGBTQIA+ community, the police shall close the case without harassing them after receiving their statements.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) must enlist NGOs, with significant knowledge in dealing with LGBTQIA+ issues. The list of such NGOs, along with their addresses, contact information, and services provided, shall be published within 8 weeks and updated on the official website regularly.
  • Any person who is facing a problem as a result of their belonging in the LGBTQIA+ community can turn to one of the registered NGOs for help in defending and protecting their rights.
  • The concerned NGO shall keep confidential records of those who approach the enlisted NGOs, and the data collected shall be given to the MSJE bi-annually.
  • Such issues will be addressed most appropriately based on the facts and circumstances of each case, whether through counseling, financial assistance, legal assistance, or coordination with law enforcement agencies regarding offences committed against members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • With the issue of accommodation, appropriate improvements must be made in existing short-term homes, Anganwadi shelters, and “garimagreh” to accommodate any and every LGBTQIA+ individual who requires it.
  • The Central and State Governments in consultation with other Ministries shall endeavor to device such measures and policies.

Conclusion

In the past few years, the LGBTQ community has received some acceptance in India. Most of the people belonging to the LGBTQ community face discrimination from their families who see homosexuality as shameful. They are always looked down and face a lot of difficulty in finding a place in society.

The judge of the above case sought advice from a psychotherapist on same-sex partnerships. He described himself as "not totally awake" and said he was among India's majority who "have yet to truly appreciate homosexuality."

Today, more Indian youngsters are accepting homosexuality and queer identities than before, but acceptance inside the confines of families, homes, and schools remains a constant fight for LGBT people. The legalizing of homosexuality is India's first step toward acceptance, yet, the country still has a long way to go before it achieves true and real acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.


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