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Madras HC’s Latest Judgement Gives Hope For A More Queer-Inclusive Future!

Posted: April 2, 2021

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In a positive move, the Madras HC ordered a lesbian couple’s parents to seek counselling, thus potentially giving us a more inclusive future!

Feminist scholars over the years have found by studying different societal institutions, that they are invariably defined by patriarchy. From judiciary to the family to even our language, it is all disturbingly coloured with misogyny.

The same is true of the pervasiveness of homophobia in all of the institutions of the world. But the recent Madras High court judgement exhibits a ray of light for the queer community. The judgement proves that attitudes are slowly and steadily becoming more queer-affirmative and the judiciary is by and large on the side of equality.

According to a report in The Quint, two young women in love had fled from their homes in Madurai. The women were forced to flee after they faced threats from their parents who opposed their relationship.

They sought the protection of an NGO in Chennai while the parents and police harassed them and the NGO. Even accusing the latter of human trafficking to intimidate the LBGTQIA+ activists.

A bench led by Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of Madras High Court recently recognised the women’s right and instructed the parents to go through counselling. The parents were instructed to undergo counselling with Vidya Dinakaran. She is noted for her work with survivors of gender-based violence and her queer-affirmative counselling, to work towards a peaceful resolution.

Queer existence isn’t new, invisibility and homophobia are

Queer identities and orientations have existed since times immemorial. From Sikhandin in Vyasa’s Mahabharata to the depiction of same-sex love in Kamasutra. From Amir Khusru the Sufi saint’s musical and poetic works to Zia Barani’s accounts of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s male attachments.

All this just shows us that history is very queer. Nor were such identities looked down upon or discriminated against with the vileness and violence we witness today.

With the rise in homophobia and transphobia in modern, capitalist times, visibility took a hit. This lack of visibility, heteronormativity and homophobia implies that when young women like the petitioners come out to their parents, they are met with violent opposition.

The significance of the judgement

This interim judgment and Justice N Anand Venkatesh’s observations are particularly significant for the queer struggle. They acknowledge the importance of unpacking the internalised homophobia that comes with living in a violently unequal and antipathetic society.

“I am also trying to break my own preconceived notions about this issue and I am in the process of evolving, and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the petitioners…” were the words of the Justice.

The recognition of how important this case is for a huge section of the population and the attempt to unlearn and learn and evolve is a significant step in reforming a historically queer-phobic society. This step is a major contribution to the struggle of making it queer-affirmative.

The police interference in the lives of the lesbian couple has been barred. Meanwhile, the women’s right to reside where they want is recognised and the parents have been instructed to undergo counselling.

This judgement proves to be a watershed moment, along with another judgement by the Delhi High court earlier in March. The latter recognised the right of a lesbian woman to not reside at her in-laws’ after being forced into the marriage by her family. It also instructed for the earliest dissolution of the marriage.

The future and the need for intersectionality

While this is a significant step towards queer-affirming laws and society, there is a long road ahead. Queer individuals still find themselves subjected to illegal and immoral conversion therapies. Many even lose their lives in the process.

The Central government continues to vehemently oppose marriage equality, the brand of nationalism they endorse actively alienates all non-normative individuals. At the same time, the Trans Act treats trans people as second class citizens and does not recognise self-determination of gender identity.

The objective of achieving queer justice cannot be realised until every queer individual and their experiences, across all barriers, are recognised. It isn’t achieved this they are treated with the respect and dignity that is inalienable to every human being.

But the journey towards it is slowly taking a positive turn and the movement has to take advantage of the momentum in an inclusive and intersectional manner.

Picture credits: Kseniia Perminova via Canva Pro

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An undergraduate student of Political Science at Presidency University, Kolkata. Describes herself as an intersectional

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