A Writ Petition was filed by Queerala, a registered association of people belonging to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex Life (LGBTQI community Kerala) and PR Raghav, a transman and an alleged victim of forced conversion therapy in the Kerala High Court. The Petitioner pleaded to the Hon’ble Court-
- To declare all forms of forced treatment claims and conversion therapy to change the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression of people belonging to the LGBTIQ Community as illegal and violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19, 21 of the Constitution.
- To direct the State to take necessary measures to ban forced conversion therapy which is harmful and widely discredited practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, practiced by hospitals, medical practitioners, healthcare professionals and independent clinics.
- To direct the State to formulate a mental health guideline making it illegal to practice any form of conversion therapy by practitioners or Mental Health Institutions.
The Petitioners contended that forced conversion at the instance of the medical practitioners create several physical problems to the community and that there are no guidelines prescribing such conversion, and hence asked for the Government of Kerala to frame guidelines.
The State contended that the Kerala State Mental Health Authority has not received any complaint in the past about ‘Conversion Therapy’ in Kerala. The State also put on record that no therapy has been approved or proven effective for such gender conversions and that there are no guidelines. Articulating that Section 95 of the Mental Healthcare Act prohibits a few procedures, however, Conversion therapy though unscientific is not on the list of prohibited procedures and regulation by statutory bodies alone cannot stop the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the State.
Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan remarked that Stringent action should be taken against any forced conversion of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of persons of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community, and directed the State to frame guidelines for such procedures.
The Court held that an expert committee should be constituted to study this issue. Based on the study report, the government should frame guidelines and produce the same before this Court within five months with due consultation with Queerala. The matter will be heard by the court on May 18, 2022.
– Written by Vaishali Jain