Kerala HC Upholds LGBT+ Autonomy in Partner Choice

LGBT+ individuals are entitled to complete autonomy over the most intimate decisions relating to their personal life, including the choice of their partners – Kerala HC


In this case, the petitioner, a close associate of Ms. X, a transwoman, sought the court’s immediate intervention. He asserted that Ms. X’s family, consisting of her father, mother, and sister, subjected her to violence after she disclosed her gender identity. Ms. X sought assistance from Disha, an organization dedicated to safeguarding the rights of individuals like her. The petitioner lodged a complaint with the police regarding the grievances faced by Ms. X. Ms. X was admitted to Amrita Hospital, where she was allegedly coerced into signing a consent form under duress and threatened with being labelled mentally ill if she insisted on being discharged. Ms. X also submitted a complaint electronically to the police and the Social Welfare Department. The petitioner contended that Ms. X’s family attempted to portray her gender identity as a mental disorder requiring psychiatric treatment.

Contention of the Petitioner:

The petitioner argued that Ms. X was being held in illegal detention by her family and forced to undergo treatment to change her gender identity, seeking a writ of habeas corpus to set her at liberty.

Contention of the Respondent:

On the other hand, the Respondents, Ms. X’s family, contended that they did not object to her expressing herself as she desired. They emphasized their primary concern was for her safety and education, and they expressed willingness to support her financially and provide a safe home environment. The family claimed they sought treatment for Ms. X when she displayed aggression towards them and acknowledged her gender dysphoria, offering to fund her chosen treatment.

Court’s Observation:

The court observed that Ms. X, being 19 years old, had the right to self-determination and expressed her desire to live separately due to familial violence and coercion regarding her gender identity. The court recognized the legal rights of transgender persons to decide their self-identified gender, referencing previous Supreme Court judgments, including the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India and Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, which affirmed the right to self-identified gender and sexual orientation as integral parts of one’s personality, deserving protection under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Court’s Decision:

In its decision, the court allowed the petition, setting Ms. X at liberty and respecting her choice to live on her own terms. The court also noted the family’s offer to support Ms. X, including financial assistance for her education and treatment, and left the choice of medical consultation to Ms. X, acknowledging her preference for the psychiatrist.

Deeksha Rai

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