The present petition is in continuation of Sushma judgment by the Madras HC, wherein the Honorable High Court held conversion therapy to be illegal and asked State Medical Councils to submit a response as to the same. The Court directed to ensure that the State Medical Councils shall notify conversion therapy as misconduct in their rules so that there is consistency between the Commission rules and the Council rules.
The bench had previously issued guidelines against harassment of the community by Police authorities and had directed for change in the queerphobic curriculum. The court also accepted the standardized guidelines/ prospective glossary submitted by the state government for referring to LGBTQ+ persons and instructed the press/ media to follow the glossary in letter and spirit. The court published in its order a Tamil glossary of LGBTQ+ terms prepared by queer communities and individuals. The court also directed the State to organize a program for sensitizing school teachers on dealing with issues relating to children belonging to the LQBTQ+ community.
Justice Anand Venkatesh looked into the Draft Conduct Regulations 2022, which has been put in the public domain and suggestions have been invited. The court noted that only gender-based discrimination had been included as misconduct and “Conversion Therapy” was conspicuously absent. The matter has been posted to 25.07.2022 for further hearing.
National Medical Councils (“NMC”)
The court also mandated the Standing Council for National Medical Council to refer to the recommendations put forward by the petitioners about conversion practices and the scope of its outlawing. The petitioners, in their submissions, also referred to the Legislation in other countries concerning conversion therapy and the United Nations report of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The court said that the same could be utilized by the NMC while concluding the enlistment of professional misconduct for “conversion therapy”.
The Senior Panel Counsel of the NCERT also advanced that module titled “Training Module on Integrating Transgender Concerns in Schooling Process school Education: Concerns and Roadmap” in consultation with the additional stakeholders. The same was being formatted and will be shared with all stakeholders by the second half of August 2022. It was submitted that timelines have been fixed by NCERT and training for sensitization of different stakeholders of school education shall start from the coming academic session.
In the previous hearing, the court had also directed the Central Government to list the number of NGOs working in this area and also to report on the nature of work carried out by these NGOs. In response to this, a Status Report was filed informing that advertisement has been released calling for applications from NGOs/CBOs to enlist themselves under the Garima Greh Scheme. It ordered,
“These NGOs need not necessarily come within the fold of Garima Greh Scheme. Hence, the learned Senior Panel Counsel is directed to inform the 10 the respondent, to take steps to independently enlist the NGOs, who are working for the welfare of the persons belonging to the LGBTQ+ community and who are not enlisting themselves under the Garima Greh Scheme”
The Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority requested for extension in submission of the report. Similarly, the learned Additional Advocate General submitted that he requires some time to take instructions and report before this Court for the “Glossary, Draft Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, Sensitization of Teachers and the Transgender Persons Policy”.
Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work & Hamda Arfeen