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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Centre sets up panel of administrators to make recommendations to ensure LGBTQ persons do not face any threat

Steps to stop violence and bias against community

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 18.04.24, 06:14 AM
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Representational image File picture

The Centre has set up a panel of administrators to make recommendations to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) persons do not face any threat of coercion, harassment, violence or discrimination in access to goods, services and social welfare entitlements.

A gazette notification from the Union law ministry announcing the six-member committee to be chaired by the cabinet secretary said the panel would also submit recommendations to ensure that LGBTQ persons are not subjected to involuntary medical treatment or surgery.

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Members of the LGBTQ community have applauded the panel’s announcement amid expectations that it will lead to fresh government initiatives to curb what some describe as continued discrimination against them.

The panel members include the secretaries of the health, home, law and justice, social justice and empowerment, and women and child development departments. The notification follows a Supreme Court directive to the Centre seeking a committee to examine issues relating to the LGBTQ community.

A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, in its ruling on October 17, 2023, had by a 3:2 majority refused to accord legal recognition to same-sex marriage and said only Parliament could confer such a right. The majority also overruled the minority opinion that members of the LGBTQ community had the right to adoption like a heterosexual couple or parent.

But the Supreme Court had in the judgment also noted an assurance from the Centre’s solicitor-general that the government would constitute a committee chaired by the cabinet secretary to define and elucidate the scope of entitlements of LGBTQ couples who are in unions.

“The committee shall include experts with domain knowledge and expertise in dealing with the psychological, social and emotional needs of persons belonging to the (LGBTQ) community as well as members of the (LGBTQ) community,” the court had also noted.

The six-member committee may co-opt experts and others, the April 16 gazette notification said.

“The law has changed, but our society hasn’t,” said Yashwinder Singh, with the Faridabad (Haryana)-based Pahal Foundation, a non-government group engaged in LGBTQ community issues. “LGBTQ persons continue to face bullying, forced marriages, harassment at workplaces — and increasingly, with the emergence of dating apps, we’re also seeing cyber-bullying and blackmail,” Singh told The Telegraph.

The formation of this high-level government committee is a “recognition of the need for more change,” said Sudhanshu Latad, an advocacy manager with the Mumbai-based Humsafar Trust, a support group for members of the transgender community.

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