It was in Kerala High Court that the first case seeking a ban on conversion therapy was filed; however the case is still pending.

A bamboo umbrella opened high in the air with rainbow coloured ribbons hanging from itImage credit - Prathyash Vipanchika / FB / Queerala
news Court Saturday, June 12, 2021 - 13:42

In October 2020, an LGBTQIA+ organisation and a trans activist submitted a petition at the Kerala High Court, seeking a ban of conversion therapy - an illegal practice that claims to "cure" queer people. Eight months later, the case is still pending. However, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, a historical judgment was made by the Madras High Court giving guidelines against the discrimination of queer people, including asking for action against conversion therapy. The judgment was passed in a case of harassment of a lesbian couple by the police. The petitioners had not even sought a ban on conversion therapy and the many other guidelines that Justice Anand Venkatesh eventually pronounced.

Queer groups cheered the verdict and hoped that it would help bring about similar orders in other states. In Kerala, members of Queerala, one of the petitioners seeking the ban on conversion therapy, told TNM that they expect their own state, known for its pro-LGBTQIA+ measures, would follow suit. However, nine months after submitting the writ petition, they are yet to hear from a few respondents.

“Though the first case seeking to formulate law /regulations to ban conversation therapy was filed in the Kerala High Court, it is yet to reach its legal/logical conclusion. An isolated reference made by the High Court of Madras to take action against those found engaged in the practice of conversation therapy may not be much beneficial in the absence of any statutory or legal provision penalising such practices,” says Advocate Fehra, who is appearing for Queerala and Raghav, the other petitioner in the case who is a board member of Malayalee Transmen Association (MATA).

Conversion therapy became a topic of discussion in Kerala in recent months after a few queer people came out with their experiences. 

Read: ‘They tied me up, sedated me’: A probe into LGBTQI conversion therapy in Kerala

“The appropriate government has to come forward with suitable legislations to curb such evil/illegal practices towards the LGBTQIA+ community. The writ petition filed by Queerala before the High Court of Kerala specifically seeks directions to the state government to formulate appropriate guidelines in the matter. The core question to be answered in the writ petition is about the element of evidence regarding such illegal practices. Fortunately, two individuals who had experienced traumatising episodes of conversation therapy have come forward and sought for impleadment in the case to explain their ill experience before the court,” Advocate Fehra adds.

Also read: A Madras HC judge fought his own prejudices before landmark LGBTQIA+ order

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