Madras HC orders police protection for queer woman from her family
According to the woman’s counsel, the petitioner left home on April 17 fearing for her life and safety as she was subjected to physical and verbal abuse by her family.
The Madras high court recently granted police protection to a queer woman belonging to the LGBTQ community as she was receiving frequent life threats from her family members after she disclosed her sexual orientation to them.
The bench comprising justice M Nirmal Kumar followed the guidelines laid down by the Madras high court earlier in a historic judgment delivered by justice Anand Venkatesh in June in the case of a lesbian couple seeking protection. It included guidelines for police not to harass the community on account of their parents filing ‘missing complaints’ which is what had happened in this case.
According to the counsel, the petitioner left home on April 17 fearing for her life and safety as she was subjected to physical and verbal abuse and her family was aware that she was living with a female friend but her brother sent her on WhatsApp, a copy of a missing woman FIR filed on April 22.
“The petitioner is a major who consciously and deliberately left her native [place] to escape from her abusing family members and she is now living with her friend,” the counsel submitted. “The petitioner’s apprehension is that the family may try to kill her in the name of honour or adopt other tactics to cause grievous physical harm to her. In view of the same, the petitioner has requested for Police Protection,” the counsel added.
The counsel also submitted that immediately after the petitioner completed class 12, she was forcibly married when she was only 17 years old. “The petitioner, in course of time, realized that she was queer and could not stay in a heterosexual marriage. As a result, the petitioner and her husband have fallen apart and nothing survives in the marriage,” the counsel said . She later began living with her friend and later they left the village fearing her parents, who thought she brought disrepute to the family, the counsel said.
The police submitted that a case of ‘women missing’ was registered on the complaint of the petitioner’s mother but “the Police, on receipt of any complaint regarding girl/woman/man missing, which upon enquiry/investigation is found to involve consenting adults belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, after receipt of their statements, closes the complaint without subjecting them to any harassment.” The court observed that the petitioner and her friend are “conscious about their relationship.”
“In view of the above, the respondent police is directed not to cause any harassment and also give appropriate protection for the safety and life of the petitioner following the guidelines issued by this Court... dated 07.06.2021.” the court said in its order passed on June 25, which was made public on Tuesday.