“Trying to Break My Own Preconceived Notions” About LGBTQ+ Issues, Madras HC Judge Says
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court said yesterday he is making efforts to move away from his “preconceived notions” on LGBTQ+ issues — setting an example to judicial peers, as well as citizens, who refuse to accept queer relationships.
Justice Venkatesh also appointed a psychologist who specializes in working with LGBTQ+ individuals to draft an educational report on LGBTQ+ issues for the court.
“This move becomes very vital since this Court is moving into unchartered waters,” Justice Venkatesh said, explaining his decision to involve the expert.
The judge’s statements pertain to a case involving a same-sex couple from Madurai, aged 20 and 22, who had known each other for two years before their “friendship blossomed into love,” the judgment reads. However, their desire to be “partner[s] to each other for life,” as the petition states, did not sit well with their families — forcing them to run away to Chennai.
Following this, their families filed “girl[s] missing complaint[s],” which have now been withdrawn under the court’s directions, after the parties agreed to work with the court-appointed psychologist to reach a peaceful resolution.
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“The parents … are shocked, and they are not able to immediately accept the relationship … They were more concerned about the security of the petitioners and were worried that the petitioners should not get exploited,” the judge notes.
Until the women and their families have reached a resolution, the couple will not be forced to go back to their respective homes and will continue to be protected by the International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim, the NGO presently supporting them.
India’s patriarchal, heteronormative society often instills unconscious biases against people and experiences outside what is deemed ‘normal.’ “I am also trying to break my own preconceived notions about this issue and I am in the process of evolving, and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the petitioners and their parents,” Justice Venkatesh stated, adding he has spent “some time in doing some research and collecting materials to arrive at a proper understanding of this issue.”