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Kerala government given stern instructions to combat forced conversion therapy of the LGBTQA+ population in the State: Kerala High Court

Kerala government given stern instructions to combat forced conversion therapy of the LGBTQA+ population in the State is upheld by the Kerala High Court in the case of Queerala An Organization for Malayali LGBTIQ Community v. State of Kerala (WP(C) No. 21202 of 2020) through Justice V.Kunhikrishnan

FACTS OF THE CASE

The petitioner 1, an organisation having members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life (LGBTQI community), and the petitioner 2, a transman and alleged victim of forced conversion, both filed complaints with the court alleging that Kerala was engaging in a practise of forced conversion at the behest of medical professionals that caused the community of the petitioners’ numerous physical issues. The petitioners claim that there is no official policy mandating this change.

Conversion therapy is defined as any treatments, including individual talk therapy, behavioural (e.g. aversive stimuli), group therapy, or milieu (e.g. “retreats or inpatient treatments” relying on all of the above methods) treatments in a report created by the Indian Psychiatry Society. These treatments aim to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. However, due to mounting evidence that these methods are harmful to those who are affected and their families who refuse to change, major mental health organisations have condemned them.

According to the research, conversion treatment for minors is currently prohibited in California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Washington, DC, and the Canadian province of Ontario, and an increasing number of US States are exploring similar legislation. Notably, the petitioners claimed that there had been forced conversion whereas the government said that no complaint had been filed indicating such.

 JUDGMENT

Given that the State Government has not established any guidelines for conversion therapy among the LGBTQ+ community, the Court ruled that if the petitioners’ allegations of forced conversion are true, the State should take strict action.

The State government was ordered to look into the situation and, if necessary, form an expert committee to study the issue after the Court expressed the opinion that guidelines are required in this regard for conversion therapy, if it is medically possible. The Court further ordered that the State should draught a directive and submit it to this Court within 5 months based on the study report. Before the rules are finalised, the Court emphasized that petitioner 1 representation must be heard.

Therefore, the Kerala government was given stern instructions by the Court to combat forced conversion therapy of the LGBTQA+ population in the State. The Court further ordered the government to set up an expert group and develop a policy based on its recommendations.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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