Madras high court order offers LGBTs a ray of hope on gay marriage

NEW DLEHI: The Madras high court order aimed at providing minimum protection from harassment and discrimination to LGBTQIA+ couples by suggesting to the Tamil Nadu government to consider adopting a “deed of familial association” for recognising such relationships, has come like a ray of hope for the community.
An emerging concept, the ‘deed of familal association’ as proposed by the petitioner in the case provides for a deed to ensure that two persons from the LGBTQIA+ will have a right to live in a relationship and also have a right to protection.The deed will provide a shield against harassment by society and discrimination that can impact employment, housing and assimilation in society. However, the deed will not give the contracting individuals the legal status or rights flowing from a marriage or a civil union.
After the Supreme Court judgement refused to recognise same sex marriages or even civil unions putting the ball in the court of the legislature, the community was seized by dissapointment. Interestingly, the HC order suggests a deed of familial association while citing the SC judgement.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh said that though the SC has refused to recognise marrigage between same sex couples, it has categorically recognised the right of choice of two persons to have a relationship.
With no specific guidelines yet on safeguards against harassment for such couples, the legal experts and the community are now hoping to see if the deed of familial association (DFA) going forward could provide that much needed legal template for recognition of such relationships and safegaurd against harassment.
All eyes are now on the Tamil Nadu government as to whether it will agree to creating a mechanism for DFA and define the scope of a such deeds. The HC order puts the onus on states to take the lead.

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