Pankaj Bajpai

Chennai, February 23, 2022: While taking into consideration the glossary issued by the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department which has been filed along with the status report by the Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department, the Madras High Court recently came up with a prescriptive glossary to be used as standardized guide while addressing the persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community. 

The Single Judge N. Anand Venkatesh therefore, passed a direction to the press and media (in all forms) to henceforth use the words contained in the alternate glossary while addressing persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community, and also directed the Department of Social Welfare and Women Empowerment to publish a fresh glossary in line with the suggestions made by the members and stakeholders from the LGBTQ+ community.

As an important step to ensure that the media, press and the society at large address persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community in a more dignified and respectable manner, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh highlighted that the effort taken by the Government will also repose a lot of confidence to the persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community and they get an assurance that the State Government is taking serious steps for their due recognition.

While giving preference to the alternative glossary submitted by the members and stakeholders from the LGBTQ+ community, the Single Judge observed that the whole purpose of creating this glossary is to use the appropriate words, terms and expressions while addressing the persons belonging to the LGBTQ+ community and such usage should not continue to derogate them in any manner. 

Until now, in addressing the members of the LGBTQ community, reference or connotation has been made only to transgender persons and more specifically, transgender women. The rest of the community has been ignored and kept out of the entire context. For the first time in India, the State Government has consciously addressed all the persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. This indicates growing awareness in addressing all persons belonging to this community instead of using the terms “transgender” or “thirunangaigal” as an umbrella term for the entire community. This Court already noticed that there was a lot of awareness among the police officers after the initial orders were passed since certain awareness programmes were conducted and they were sensitized about the issue. By virtue of the amendment to the Conduct Rules, this Court hopes that persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community will not face any harassment in the hands of any police officer”, noted the High Court.

While finding that status report filed by the NGOs are completely bereft of details and the list is an inaccurate indication of the number of NGOs working towards the welfare, protection and upliftment of the LGBTQIA+ community in India, Justice Venkatesh gave last opportunity and made it clear that if the tenth respondent does not complete the process of enlisting the NGOs with all details and upload the same on their website before the next date of hearing, the Under Secretary to the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India shall be present before this Court.

Insofar as guidelines for proper treatment and care of Transgender persons in prisons is concerned, the Single Judge pointed that this Court while passing orders on December 6, 2021 identified certain offensive and unscientific terms about the LGBTQIA+ community in the existing competencies of CBME Curriculum and changes that are required in those competencies were also suggested in that order. 

Thereafter, the High Court found that the report by the National Medical Council suggested the modified competency which should be incorporated in the CBME Curriculum, and that it is clear from the report that the modified competency is readily available and that what is pending is only its implementation i.e. incorporation in the relevant published books and materials. 

Accordingly, the Single Judge opined that the National Medical Council can issue appropriate directions to all the universities to follow only those books in which the modified competency is incorporated and published, atleast from the next academic year i.e. 2022-2023. 

Lastly, on recommendation of expert committee with regard to the “conversion therapy” being identified as a professional misconduct, the High Court directed the National Medical Council to immediately circulate the report of the expert committee and the recommendations made to all the State Medical Councils across the country. 

This will ensure that the State Medical Council, wherever it is conferred with the power of taking disciplinary action for professional misconduct, can take note of the recommendations of the expert committee, and proceed to take action against the concerned medical professional, added the Court. 

Finally, the Madras High Court posted this case under the caption “for filing further report” and “for reporting compliance” on April 8, 2022. 

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