This is one of the sweeping reforms proposed by the Madras High Court in India aimed at protecting and respecting the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Justice Anand Ventakesh made these pronouncements in a judgment on a petition filed at the Madras High Court. The petitioners, a lesbian couple, are seeking protection from police harassment and persecution from their families who are opposed to their relationship.
Sensitisation in Schools
In his ruling, Justice Ventakesh proposed several measures to help sensitise educational institutions on LGBTQ+ issues including ensuring the availability of gender neutral restrooms for gender non-conforming students.
Parent Teachers Associations have also been tasked to use their meetings to sensitise parents and teachers on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community adding that:
Ignorance is no justification for normalising any form of discrimination.
Awareness programs for the judiciary
Prior to ruling on the plea, Justice Ventakesh sought counsel from a psychologist to have a better understanding of same-sex relationships and queer issues in general. He described himself as not ‘fully woke’ to appreciate the depth of the plea brought before him.
I honestly feel that such a session with a professional will help me understand same-sex relationships better and will pave way for my evolution.
The High Court Judge recommended that regular awareness programmes be organised for judicial service staff, the police and government officials to increase their understanding of issues pertaining to the queer community.
Although the court is limited in its power to impose such changes as contained in the ruling, government departments are obliged to report back on how they intend to comply with them.
Gay sex was legalised in 2018 by unanimous Supreme Court ruling but attitudes towards members of the LGBTQ+ community remain strongly conservative across India.