New Delhi: A Madras High Court judge Wednesday said he would undergo a ‘psycho-education’ to understand same-sex relationships better and sought an appointment with a psychologist after admitting that he is “not fully woke on this aspect”.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh was responding to a request made by the lawyers of a same-sex couple who had sought protection from the court. The lawyer had urged the court to issue certain guidelines to deal with cases of similar nature, “so that persons involved in same sex relationships are treated with dignity and their safety is also ensured”.
To this, Justice Venkatesh said that he wanted to give himself “some more time to churn”.
“Ultimately in this case, the words must come from my heart and not from my head, and the same will not be possible if I am not fully ‘woke’ on this aspect,” the order said.
Justice Venkatesh then asserted that he wanted to undergo a “psycho-education” and requested a psychologist to fix a convenient appointment for it.
“I honestly feel that such a session with a professional will help me understand same-sex relationships better and will pave way for my evolution. If I write an order after undergoing psycho-education, I trust that the words will fall from my heart,” the order added.
The court is hearing a protection petition filed by two women — a 22-year-old BSc Mathematics graduate and a 20-year-old BA Tamil student. The duo have known each other for two years now and told the court they wanted to be together. Both have been facing resistance and pressure from their respective families.
In an order passed on 29 March this year, Justice Venkatesh admitted that he is also trying to break his “own preconceived notions about this issue” and is “in the process of evolving”. He proceeded to say that he is “trying to develop this case brick by brick”.
The court had also referred the women as well as their parents to a counsellor who specialises in working with LGBTQI+ individuals. “This move becomes very vital since this Court is moving into unchartered waters, and a report from a specialist will provide support to this Court to move forward in this case,” the judge said.
‘Would rather prefer daughters to live a life of celibacy’
On Wednesday, the court went through the report sent to it by the counsellor in a sealed cover. The counselling of the girls and their families was conducted on 13 April.
The court noted that the first part of the report explained the falsified notions of sex, gender and sexual orientation, and explained how those terms must be understood. The rest of the report dealt with the counsellor’s observations of the “mental status” of all parties involved.
According to the order, the counsellor had opined that the two women “perfectly understand the relationship they have entered into and there is absolutely no confusion in their minds about the same”, and that “they have lot of love and affection for their parents and their only fear is that they may be coerced into separation”.
As for the parents, the counsellor’s report said that they were concerned about the stigma attached to such a relationship and the consequences that it may have on their family. In fact, the report noted that the parents would “rather prefer their daughters to live a life of celibacy, which according to them will be more dignified than having a partner of the same sex”, the report order said.
However, the court was told that the women are now in touch with their parents and speak regularly. Taking note of the “progress” shown in the case, the court directed the parents of the petitioners to undergo one more round of counselling with the same counsellor.
The families had filed missing persons complaints against the two women, which the court had been assured by police officials on 29 March that they would “immediately closed”. However, the court Wednesday noted that this had not been done yet. It was then assured by the legal team representing the government that this would be done immediately.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)