The Madras high court. (HT archive)
The Madras high court. (HT archive)

Madras HC judge seeks session with psychologist to understand same-sex relationships

The judge did so before recording his judgment in a case pertaining to a lesbian couple who sought protection from their birth families who were opposed to their relationship, and directed the Tamil Nadu police to close the FIR filed by the parents of both women
By Divya Chandrababu
PUBLISHED ON APR 29, 2021 02:03 PM IST

A Madras high court judge on Wednesday fixed an appointment with a psychologist to understand same sex orientation better before recording his judgment in a case pertaining to a lesbian couple who sought protection from their birth families who were opposed to their relationship, and directed the Tamil Nadu police to close the First Information Report filed on the basis of a missing person’s complaint filed by the parents of both women.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh said that he would want to undergo an educational session with Vidhya Dinakaran, a city-based psychologist, while hearing the petition.

“Ultimately in this case, the words must come from my heart and not from my head, and the same will not be possible if I am not fully “woke” on this aspect,” justice Venkatesh said. “For this purpose, I want to subject myself for psycho-education with Vidhya Dinakaran and I would request the psychologist to fix a convenient appointment for the same. I honestly feel that such a session with a professional will help me understand same-sex relationships better and will pave way for my evolution. If I write an order after undergoing psychoeducation, I trust that the words will fall from my heart.”

In a previous hearing, the court had directed the petitioners as well as their parents to undergo counselling and Dinakaran had submitted a report to the judge on Wednesday.

The court noted that the psychologist’s opinion is that the petitioners “perfectly understand the relationship they have entered” and that there was “no confusion in their minds”. It was also observed that they have a lot of love and affection for their parents and that their only fear is that they may be coerced into separation.

“According to the psychologist, such a scenario will cause a lot of mental trauma to the petitioners,” the judge observed. “The petitioners are also willing to wait for their parents, whom they fervently hope will understand the relationship at some future point of time.”

Meanwhile, the parents of both the petitioners, the court observed, were worried of stigma, consequences in the society and the security of their daughters.

A total of four petitions pertaining to same-sex marriage are pending before the high courts of Delhi and Kerala, challenging various acts that restrict marriage to opposite sex or heterosexual couples. Though the Supreme Court read down Section 377, which criminalized same-sex adult consensual relationships, in 2018, several same-sex couples continue to seek protection from the court as their birth families continue to oppose their sexuality.

“One more interesting observation that has been made in [Dinakaran’s] report is that the parents would rather prefer their daughters to live a life of celibacy, which according to them will be more dignified than having a partner of the same sex,” justice Venkatesh observed on Wednesday. The parents are confused over lineage and adoption that would apply in a same sex relationship.

The petitioners are two women from Madurai who are currently taking refuge in Chennai with the help of an NGO and are seeking to continue their education and work simultaneously.

The court directed the parties to undergo another round of counselling and the judge said that the couple’s parents couldn’t be expected to change their notions overnight. The matter has been posted to June 7.

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