The Delhi High Court has ordered the police to give adequate protection to a 23-year-old lesbian woman from her family members and in-laws. The woman told the Court that she was forced to marry a man and continue her heterosexual relationship against her will, despite the family being fully aware of her homosexual orientation and identification as a lesbian woman.
Can you marry anyone of your choice?
Yes. The Supreme Court has said that every adult person has the fundamental right to marry anyone of their choice.
However, a same-sex marriage is not legally recognized under the present marriage laws. The matter is currently before the Delhi High Court, which has taken up petitions seeking to extend legal recognition to same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act, Special Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act.
If not marriage, what are the other rights of same-sex couples?
The Supreme Court has said that homosexuality is not a crime in India, and the Constitution protects sexual orientation as part of the right to equality and right to life. This includes the choice of a partner and the ability to find fulfilment in sexual intimacies without facing discrimination. Same-sex couples have the right to live with dignity, to be equally protected under the law, and to be treated in society as human beings without any stigma being attached to them.
Same-sex partners have the right to be in live-in relationships. The Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered police protection for two women who were living together as a same-sex couple and receiving threats by their family members.
The Allahabad High Court has said that members of the LGBTQ+ community can engage in public display of affection towards their partners, as long as it is not indecent or likely to disturb public order.
What can you do if you face harassment and discrimination as an LGBTQ+ person?
You can approach the following authorities:
You can file a criminal complaint with the police. Based on the complaint, the police will file an FIR. If you are a woman or trans woman, then for certain crimes, a woman police officer must fill out the FIR. Read here to find out what you can do if the police don’t file your FIR.
You can approach the National Human Rights Commission or concerned State Human Rights Commission. These Commissions address violations of rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution.
In case of discrimination targeted against women or trans women, you can approach the National Commission for Women, or concerned State Commission for Women.
To know more about LGBTQ+ rights, read our LGBTQ+-specific explainers on healthcare, getting ID proof, and taking action against violence.