Madras High Court: Prohibit "cure" to correct sexual orientation, make educational syllabus LGBTQ+ friendly

The Madras High Court has come up with a slew of directions to various government departments aimed at improving the social standing of and the treatment meted out to the LGBTQ+ community. They included prohibiting therapies and cures advertised to change a person's sexual orientation, withdrawal of license of a medical practitioner claiming to provide such a "cure" and to make changes in educational syllabus of schools and universities for a better understanding of the community among students. 

These directions were made after Justice N Anand Venkatesh spent time in his own psycho-education to understand the community's issues. He was hearing a case wherein a same-sex couple had pled protection from police harassment as their parents filed missing complaints after they eloped. Justice Venkatesh not only underwent counseling in order to give a fair judgement to the couple, he also spent time with some community members and did extensive research of his own to gain a perspective on same-sex relationships.

In a 107-page judgement, he described his own journey of unlearning and gaining a different outlook. "I have no hesitation in accepting that I too belong to the majority of commoners who are yet to comprehend homosexuality completely," he acknowledged in the judgement. He was quick to say though, that ignorance is no justification for normalizing any form of discrimination.

He made several directions to different ministries of the centre and the state of Tamil Nadu in order to eradicate blatant discrimination against people from the sexual minorities. Police, members of the judiciary and District/ State Legal Services Authorities were asked to organise awareness programs to understand and uphold legal rights of the community. 

Health professionals were directed to not attempt to medically "cure" or change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ+, and to withdraw the license of a practitioner who does.  Educational institutions were also given several directions including changing the curricula for better understanding of the community among students. Workplaces were told to have more inclusive, non-discriminatory hiring and HR policies. 

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