Allahabad HC Orders Reinstatement of Person Fired for Displaying Affection with Queer Partner
The Allahabad High Court last week quashed an order of cancellation of the appointment of a Home Guard who was fired for displaying affection with his queer partner in an online video. In a significant judgment, the court said employers have no business judging PDA between people.
In 2019, The District Commandant of Home Guards in Bulandshahar had sacked the Home Guard on a charge of indecency. It was stated in a counter-affidavit procured by the court that his sexual orientation was proof of “indulgence in untoward activity.”
However, the Justice held that this was in direct violation with the Supreme Court’s orders and principles laid down in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India — the case responsible for the scrapping of provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized ‘unnatural sex’ between consenting adults. The Allahabad HC judgment quoted the 2018 SC judgment, stating, “The Apex Court in the said case has held that the sexual orientation of the person is his individual choice and any act of treating it as an offense would be interference in the right of the privacy of the person concerned.”
The court also held that “any display of affection” amongst the members of the LGBTQ+ community towards their partners in public “cannot be bogged down by the majority perception”, so long as it does not amount to indecency or disturb public order. While the word indecency has a very vague definition in law—and is open to interpretation—the judgment comes at a time when queer people are still ostracised and harassed for any form of public displays of affection.
Terming this sacking “vindictive”, the HC directed the administration to take back the Guard in service with immediate effect.