The judge also directed the counsellor to submit a report to the court in a sealed cover by April 26.

Madras high court
news Court Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 18:53

The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered counselling for the parents of a lesbian couple who are under the protection of the NGO International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care. The court said that services of a counsellor, who has experience in LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) matters, should be utilised to provide counselling to the parents who had threatened the couple.

The women had fallen in love while studying in college and gotten into a relationship. After the parents opposed their decision, the couple left for Madurai in February. Earlier on March 19, The New Indian Express had reported that an LGBTQI+ activist – Shiva Kumar – and a trans man named Selvam, allegedly faced harassment by the Madurai police for sheltering the lesbian couple. The parents of one of the women in Madurai had lodged a complaint alleging their daughter had been kidnapped.

Justice N Anand Venkitesh, in his interim order on Tuesday, observed that he is in the process of "unlearning" preconceived notions that were held by him on such issues and is into deep study of the subject. Directing the counsellor to submit a report to the court in a sealed cover by April 26, he said: "I am trying to develop this case brick by brick and ultimately construct something purposeful on this issue."

When the court had taken up the case earlier, it made the full hearing in the matter into in-camera proceedings, observing that the issue should be dealt with sensitivity and empathy, TNIE reported.

While giving the order for counselling on Tuesday, the judge also explained the reasons behind the same. He said that after researching the issue to come to an understanding about it. He stated, “To be open, I am also trying to break my own preconceived notions about this issue and I am in the process of evolving, and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the petitioners and their parents.”

He also noted that the petitioners (the couple) had communicated with “much clarity” and “did not mince any words". The couple had told the court that they will be partners through their life.

The judge has also sent a request to the Chief Justice requesting him to allow him to continue the case. He was due to change his portfolio from April 1 and the next hearing of the case has been slated for April 28.

The court also ordered that status quo be maintained in the case of the couple and that they continue to be under the protection of the NGO.

The state government prosecutor also informed the court that police will not interfere in the case hereafter and that the kidnap case filed by the parents will be closed with immediate effect.

(With IANS inputs)

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