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Supreme Court’s Warning on Court-Ordered Counseling for LGBTQ+ Individuals


The Supreme Court (SC) cautions judges against using court-mandated counseling to influence LGBTQ+ individuals to reject their sexual orientation and identity.

  • The warning emphasizes the inappropriate nature of attempting to change someone’s identity and sexual orientation through counseling, especially when they are facing distress or separation from family due to their LGBTQ+ status.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Status of LGBTQIA+ Rights and Recognition in India
  2. Major Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ in India

Status of LGBTQIA+ Rights and Recognition in India

Definition of LGBTQIA+:
  • LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.
  • The “+” symbolizes other identities that are continually being recognized, such as non-binary and pansexual.
Historical Overview:
  • Colonial Era and Stigma (Pre-1990s):
    • 1861: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” posing a significant obstacle to LGBTQIA+ rights.
  • Early Recognition and Activism (1990s):
    • 1981: The inaugural All-India Hijra Conference.
    • 1991: AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) releases “Less Than Gay,” advocating for legal reforms.
  • Landmark Cases and Setbacks (2000s):
    • 2001: Naz Foundation initiates a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against Section 377.
    • 2009: Delhi High Court ruling in Naz Foundation vs Govt of NCT of Delhi decriminalizes consensual homosexual acts.
    • 2013: Supreme Court overturns the Delhi High Court’s decision, reinstating Section 377.
  • Recent Advancements and Ongoing Struggle (2010s-Present):
    • 2014: Supreme Court recognizes transgender individuals as a “third gender” in the NALSA judgement.
    • 2018: Section 377 is struck down by the Supreme Court, decriminalizing same-sex relationships in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India.
    • 2019: Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 is enacted, offering legal recognition and prohibiting discrimination.
    • 2020: Uttarakhand High Court affirms legal protection for same-sex live-in relationships.
    • 2021: Bombay High Court upholds a petitioner’s right to self-identify gender in Village Panchayat elections.
    • 2022: Supreme Court broadens the family definition to encompass same-sex couples and queer relationships.
    • 2023: Supreme Court Constitution Bench rejects petitions to legalize same-sex marriage, emphasizing that legislative changes are the prerogative of Parliament and state legislatures.
      • SC ruled that it does not have the authority to modify the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954 by either removing or adding provisions to include same-sex individuals.

Major Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ in India

Societal Attitudes and Stigma:

  • Deep-seated societal biases against LGBTQIA+ individuals are prevalent in various regions of India.
  • These prejudices manifest as harassment, bullying, and violence, particularly in educational and professional settings, impacting the mental and emotional health of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Family Rejection and Discrimination:

  • LGBTQIA+ individuals frequently encounter rejection and discrimination within their families.
  • Such familial rejection can result in strained relationships, homelessness, and a lack of essential support networks.

Barriers to Healthcare Access:

  • LGBTQIA+ individuals face challenges in accessing healthcare services due to discrimination from healthcare providers.
  • There is a scarcity of LGBTQIA+-friendly healthcare facilities, and they often struggle to obtain appropriate sexual health-related medical care.

Limited Legal Recognition and Protections:

  • While transgender rights have seen progress, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals lack adequate legal recognition and protections.
  • Legal hurdles persist concerning marriage, adoption, inheritance, and other civil rights for these groups.

Intersectional Discrimination:

  • LGBTQIA+ individuals belonging to marginalized communities, such as Dalits, tribal groups, religious minorities, or people with disabilities, face multiple layers of discrimination due to their intersecting identities.

Manipulative Counseling Practices:

  • The use of conversion therapy and pathologizing LGBTQIA+ identities exacerbates their challenges.
  • Such counseling practices perpetuate harmful stereotypes, undermine authenticity, and intensify internalized stigma and distress among LGBTQIA+ individuals.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024