Justice N Anand Venkatesh, in a path-breaking order has paved way for guiding homosexuality and the LGBTQIA+ community towards social justice. But his journey of venturing into uncharted waters to educate himself from society that have always treated the terms ‘homosexual’, ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ as anathema, has triggered a spark for a change at a societal level in recognising same-sex relationships.
Taking upon himself the duty to deliver justice, cutting across personal prejudices and notions, the judge, while holding that a majority of the society would stand in the same position of ignorance and preconceived notions, said: “I have, at the best, read or come across people talking about the LGBTQIA+ community, but not to an extent where it made a positive impact on me or influenced me.”
The plea had been moved by a lesbian couple, seeking to protect them from not only their parents but also the police who had registered a case of a woman missing. Under normal circumstances, the case would have been disposed of by adopting the usual course of directing the police in not harassing them and reminding the parents that their children are major.
But, Justice Venkatesh while referring the same-sex couple and their parents for counselling who specialise in working with LGBTQIA+ individuals made it crystal clear in his interim orders that the move becomes very vital since this Court is moving into unchartered waters.
Pursuant to this, the judge underwent a session of psycho-education under Vidya Dinakaran. Thereafter, an interaction was held with Dr L Ramakrishnan, vice-president, Saathii; Shanmathi, PCVC; Dr Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Digital-Content Creator, Actor, MBBS Intern – Kasturba Medical College and her mother Haima Haldar. Dr Trinetra, a transwoman herself, generously accepted to share her journey and lived experiences, and the same according to the judge furthered his holistic understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“This session ultimately convinced me that I must change all my preconceived notions and start looking at persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community as they are. I must frankly confess that the petitioners, Vidya Dinakaran and Dr Trinetra became my gurus who helped me in this process of evolution and pulled me out of darkness,” Justice Venkatesh said.
However, setting aside speculations that this Bench does not view homosexuality or being part of the LGBTQIA+ community as a psychological anomaly, the court said: “Unlike regular litigations, the present case has given this Court not only an opportunity but also a vested responsibility to weigh the cause for inclusivity and justice against discrimination by a social understanding of morality and tradition.”
“I also felt that I remove the “Lordship’s” hat and instead wear the hat of the average commoner in the society, who have not given thought to understand or accept, who are attempting to understand, who refuse to understand or accept the LGBTQIA+ community,” the judge held.
Also, putting the onus on the constitutional institutions in spreading this awareness and awakening the society, Justice Anand Venkatesh’s 104-page order filled with sensitivity and empathy and how the society even now is grappling to come to terms with same-sex orientation sums up his order by starting with a quote which says it all: “There are many branches on the tree of life. There is no one way to be, and there is room for everyone to be who they are.”