Based on its findings of widespread discrimination faced by LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) persons in housing, work, and public space, a report released by International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Saturday recommends, among other measures, the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation and gender-neutral laws (for victims) pertaining to sexual violence as the next step after the Supreme Court’s decriminalisation of same -sex relationships in 2018.
The study by the international human rights organisation is based on 65 interviews conducted between July and December 2018 across six states. It reports that LGBTQ persons are often denied housing, including rental homes, forcing them to live in segregated poorer neighbourhoods, or face harassment and violence from family, landlords, neighbours, and police. In the workplace, the study notes, the discrimination manifests itself during the recruitment process, gendered working conditions, and a lack of job security.
Based on the study, the ICJ report recommends enactment of a “comprehensive anti-discrimination law, based on nationwide consultations with the aim of prohibiting discrimination on protected grounds including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression…”.
It also asks for amending IPC provisions on “sexual assault, sexual harassment, disrobing, voyeurism, stalking, rape and gang rape to introduce gender neutrality for victims in conformity with international law standards, and the recommendations made by Justice Verma Committee, in 2013.”
Speaking at release of the report, Senior Advocate Anand Grover said that after going from Naaz (the 2009 Delhi High Court order that held as unconstitutional IPC 377 in so far as it criminalises same sex relationships) to Navtej (the 2018 SC order), it is “important to see where do we go in the future”. “An anti-discrimination law is essential that covers Dalit, women, and all minorities. Also one needs to look at how to enforce such a law in the private sector, including having reservations for transgender persons in employment.”
Senior advocate Vrinda Grover said the issue of gender-neutral rape laws needs further discussion as “neutrality of law doesn’t necessarily mean equitable protection”.