The Supreme Court hearings before the five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud on Marriage Equality commenced today drawing much publicized attention. To time with these proceedings, PUCL and the National Network of LBI women and Trans persons released a report following a recent public hearing yesterday.
The 228-page report is not only about Marriage Equality, though the right to marry is one of the recommendations made by the panelists. The report is far wider, encompassing the lives of the queer and trans persons whose rights will be debated in the Supreme Court and also among society in general. The State has voiced its sharp disagreement, invoking sanskar, sacrament, and such like in the defence of the cis and heterosexual marriage and family. Several voices echo this defending the existing structures of families and opposing the right of not just queer and trans persons, but also inter-religious and inter-caste heterosexual couples to live according to their will and choice.
The debate centres as around families, not just about marriage. While the focus is on the demand for marriage equality for queer and trans peoples, it is the legitimacy given to accepted norms and structures of families that is also under question. Chosen families and intimacies cannot be thought of without also looking at the reality of what more accepted structures of families do to their queer and trans children.
This report is about the families as structured and accepted and that, often both queer and trans people experience as the biggest hurdles to a life of freedom. Instead of spaces that nurture, care and support, it is these family structures that turn against their own children (often at very young ages), treat them with utter contempt, disregard even violence. Essentially, compel them to conform to socially accepted ideas of what is “normal” without any regard to the individual’s dignity or personhood. Stigma and violence run deep within the family structure that are assigned at birth (or adoption).
The Public Hearing was a closed-door affair (an Sunwai) on Familial Violence on Queer Trans People. Among the organisers were the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), along with the National Network of LBI (Lesbian, Bisexual, Intersex) Women and Trans Persons (The Network). It was held on April 1, 2023 before a panel of judges, lawyers, academics and activists. As many as 31 queer and trans persons testified in front of the panel. The focus of the testimonies was on the relationship with the assigned (natal) families and the various struggles that the persons had undergone to be able to live their lives.
The report, Apnon ka Bahut Lagta Hai was released yesterday, Monday, April 17. It includes the findings and recommendations of the Panel which comprised of: Justice Prabha Sridevan (retired), Chennai; Asif Iqbal, co-founder, Dhanak, Delhi; Divya Taneja, Special Cell for Women and Children, Mumbai; Kavita Krishnan, feminist activist, Delhi; Manjula Pradeep, anti-caste feminist Activist, Ahmedabad; Mihir Desai, senior counsel, mumbai; Paromita Chakravarti, feminist academic, Kolkata; and Veena Gowda, feminist lawyer, Mumbai.
The organisations behind the effort are Nazariya: Queer Feminist Resource Group (Delhi), Sappho For Equality (Kolkata), Sahayatrika (Thrissur), Orinam (Chennai), Raahi (Bengaluru), QT Centre (Hyderabad), Hasrat-e-Zindagi Mamuli (Mumbai), Vikalp Women’s Group (Vadodara), SAATHII (pan-India), and unaffiliated individuals.
The entire report, Apnon Ka Bahut Lagta hai may be read here: