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Legal Rights of LGBT Community in India

LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The LGBT community over the years in India has faced discrimination due to the Sec 377 and lack of acceptance by the society. The Judiciary of India has undertaken several landmark decisions which have ensured to protect the rights of the community, decriminalize homosexuality as a criminal offence. Central and State Governments over the years have passed bills and resolutions to provide welfare schemes to the community.

Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India thr. Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India in 2018 that decriminalised all consensual sex among adults, including homosexual sex as part of Sec 377. In the past many individuals have been intimated, arrested and imprisoned by the police authorities. The act carried an imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Transgender identified as third gender have equal fundamental rights as a citizen under the Article 15 of the Indian Constitution and can't be discriminated on as a judgement passed by the Supreme Court of India in 2014 for National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India.

Although in terms of equal rights there is a long road ahead, couple of same gender can't marry as it isn't legally recognised, Transgender women may marry under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. LGBT couple can't adopt a child together as ordinary married couple of opposite sex, this also effects the other areas for the couple such as buying of property together, maintaining of joint bank account and rights for protection in terms of separation by the couple. In the past there have been attempts to legalize the marriage between same sex couple through the Uniform Civil Code that would legalize same-sex marriage, but the code has been stalled due to objection from the religious communities.

Transgender Persons Act, 2019:

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 is an act with the objective to provide for protection of rights of transgender persons for their welfare and other related matters. It bans unfair discrimination against transgender people in educational establishment employment, healthcare services, access to use of any public service, goods, owning of property, working in public or government establishment.

The act also prescribes the offences and penalty which shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine.

Although the act still faces backlash from the community for not taking suggestions such as reservation in education, jobs, lesser punishment for crimes against the community and issuance of transgender certificates by district magistrate for identity.

Over the years, there have been various initiatives undertaken by various State Governments as part of Transgender welfare schemes in education, employment, through Social Welfare Boards and Transgender Associations. Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been the forefront in introducing of welfare schemes for the community. Tamil Nadu was the first state to form a transgender welfare board with representatives from the community and Kerala started providing free surgery in government hospitals in 2016. West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh are the other states which have also introduced various benefits for the transgender community.

On a brighter side, the acceptance of LGBT community has increased over the years mostly in metro cities, establishment of welfare schemes in public policies and acceptance in corporate organisations. Reforms in legal system to ensure equality and justice for LGBT community on all the aspects has a long way to go such as legal acceptance of marriage, stringent laws which protect against the discrimination, slander abuses and ban on forceful therapy and conversion methods.

Source: LGBT Rights in India, Wikipedia: Recognition of same-sex unions in India, Wikipedia: A long way to go for LGBTQ community,Economic Times: The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, India Code: Trans Bill 2019: Why India’s transgender community is opposing a Bill which is supposed to protect their rights, Yourstory : :

Navtej Singh Johar v. UOI- Judgment which Decriminalized Homosexuality, ipleaders:

Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India

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