Published: 02nd September 2021
Justice Anand, who once said he is educating himself about the LGBTQ community, calls out medical courses for reinforcing discrimination
The judge had asked the State government to bring in necessary reforms for the development and recognition of the community
Ignorance is no justification for normalising any form of discrimination. These were the words of Justice N Anand Venkatesh when he was hearing a plea by a young lesbian couple in the Madras High Court for protection from their family members who were opposed to their relationship in early April this year. The 52-year-old judge had admitted that he too was "evolving" and trying to let go of his "own preconceived notions about this issue", referring to the LGBTQIA+community. Back then he had suggested counselling for all involved, and had said that he will "build this case brick by brick". Now, the judge has come forward to call out the alleged queerphobia among the medical community in India, stating that medical courses have been reinforcing discrimination against the queer community. The court has asked the Additional Solicitor General to raise the issue with the National Medical Commission and the Indian Psychiatric Society. The two bodies are required to file a report stating how they plan to bring necessary changes to the medical curriculum in order to address the problem in the medical community.
The court cited a case of a doctor prescribing anti-depressants and erectile dysfunction medication to a gay man, remarking on the incredibly harmful lack of awareness on part of the doctor who tried to "cure" what isn't a disease at all, and attributing it to flaws in the course he studied as part of his medical education.
Going a step further, Justice Anand also said that the police shouldn't harass members from the community or NGOs working for their benefit. Putting the onus on the Tamil Nadu government for being the spearheading change in several areas, he said that he is confident that the state government will take all necessary steps to reassure people from the queer community of recognition and development. Addressing the Advocate General of the State, the judge added, “Tamil Nadu is always known for introducing reforms in the interest of persons belonging to marginalised communities and sects and therefore, this State must be a role model to create a favourable atmosphere to persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community."
The court also stressed upon the importance of including and representing members from the community in the mainstream. "The expectation of this court must be kept in mind by the State Government while filing compliance or status report before this court," it said. The matter will be heard again on October 4.