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'Stringent Action Required' : Kerala High Court Directs State To Frame Guidelines Against Forced Conversion Therapy Among LGBTQ+ Community

Hannah M Varghese
14 Dec 2021 6:00 AM GMT
Stringent Action Required : Kerala High Court Directs State To Frame Guidelines Against Forced Conversion Therapy Among LGBTQ+ Community
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The Kerala High Court recently directed the State government to frame guidelines against the allegedly forced conversion therapy delivered to individuals belonging to the LGBTQI+ community by medical practitioners in the State. Upon being informed that forced conversion of sexual orientation was prevalent among medical practitioners, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed:"If there is...

The Kerala High Court recently directed the State government to frame guidelines against the allegedly forced conversion therapy delivered to individuals belonging to the LGBTQI+ community by medical practitioners in the State. 

Upon being informed that forced conversion of sexual orientation was prevalent among medical practitioners, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed:

"If there is forced conversion as alleged by the petitioners, stringent action should be taken. This is a matter to be looked into by the 1st respondent. According to me, a guideline is necessary in this regard for conversion therapy, if medically it is possible." 

The Court, therefore, directed the State government to look into the matter and constitute an expert committee to study the issue if necessary. Based on this study report, the State was required to frame guidelines and produce the same before the Court within 5 months. 

The direction came in a plea moved by a registered association of people belonging to the LGBTQI community in Kerala and a transman alleged to be a victim of forced conversion therapy. 

The grievance of the petitioners was that forced conversion at the instance of the medical practitioners create several physical problems to the LGBTQ+ community. According to them, there was no guideline prescribing action against such conversion. 

As such, the main prayer of the petitioners was that the State should fo formulate a mental health guideline making it illegal to practice any form of conversion therapy by practitioners or Mental Health Institutions.

Advocate Ferha Azeez appearing for the petitioners narrated the grievance of the community and prayed for urgent orders in the matter. 

Government Pleader Bijo Francis while conceding that there are no guidelines in place as of now, submitted that the State had not received any complaint to the effect of forced conversion as alleged in the petition.

He further stated that if there are such forced conversions, the State deems it illegal and that appropriate steps will be taken. 

A counter-affidavit filed by the Kerala State Mental Health Authority stated that there exists no therapy that has been approved or proven effective for the conversion of sexual preferences or gender identity. However, the affidavit stated that the testimonies of LGBTQIA+ persons in the petition indicate that it is likely that such unscientific and unethical treatments are being used by some mental health professionals and unqualified persons.

"Conversion therapy for transgender and homosexual persons is unscientific, unethical and harmful to the subjects," the affidavit said.

Conversion Therapy is where an individual identifying and belonging to the LGBTQ+ community undergoes a procedure to change the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of the person. It may be with or without the informed or uninformed consent of the individual.

The matter will be taken up on 18th May 2022 by which time the Government pleader should place on record the guidelines framed as directed above. 

Case Title: Queerala & Anr. v. State of Kerala & Ors

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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