Madras High Court: In the case relating to the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, N. Anand Venkatesh, J. has observed that six months’ time sought by the Government to finalize the Transgender Policy and the rules is completely unacceptable and this shows that priority is not being given to this issue and expects the Government to appreciate the concern shown by this Court. The Court took note of the submissions given by the Additional Advocate General and directed all concerned, including the press, to take note of the notification published in the gazette on 20.08.2022 and to address persons belonging to LGBTQIA+community by using only the notified terms.
The Court observed:
“This process has been going on for more than a year and it is not known as to why six months’ time is sought for to bring out the Transgender Policy and the rules under the 2019 Act. The Government must bear in mind that persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community have been sidelined from the mainstream of the Society for too long and it is high time that top priority is given to implement the policy and rules”.
It further viewed that, if the Government is really willing and serious about the upliftment of LGBTQIA+ community, some urgency must be shown to finalize the policy and the rules.
The Court, hence, directed the Additional Chief Secretary to file a status report and to explain the present status of the policy, the rules and the process yet to be completed regarding the same, after which the Court will fix some time lines for the completion and implementation of the policy and the rules. It also directed the National Medical Commission to upload the recommended modifications given by the expert committee on their website.
The Court further directed the counsel for the respondents to file the status report after taking specific instructions from the National Medical Commission, as to whether any subsequent draft regulations have been uploaded on the website by incorporating conversion therapy as a professional misconduct, and whether any communication to the Medical Colleges and Education Boards has been made for implementing the revised guidelines for competency-based PG Training Programme for MD in Psychiatry and for preparation of module on psychiatric issues among LGBTQIA+ community group.
The Court expressed disappointment towards the reasons provided by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for failing to enlist the NGOs who are active in the field of welfare of LGBTQIA+ community, despite the previous order, and observed that “a careful scrutiny of the allocation of business rules of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment clearly shows that it is the Ministry, who is responsible for enlistment of NGOs and they seem to be under the mistaken understanding that welfare of Transgender persons will not cover the persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community. The persons belonging to this community are sidelined by this society and they require societal empowerment.”
The Ministry has been further directed to take up the issue seriously, since the NGOs, who are working for the upliftment of the LGBTQIA+ community must be properly empanelled.
The Court to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ community in Tamil Nadu directed the government to develop guidelines.
The matter will next be taken up on 02.09.2022.
[S. Sushma v. Commissioner of Police, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 4255, decided on 22.08.2022]