Life is not easy for individuals who identify as queer in India. Not only does the LGBTQI community face social discrimination and exclusion, but often, the law fails them too, as is the case with Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Navigating the law to make a case for their rights is a process that is made all the more difficult because understanding the law is not easy. Added to this problem is the fact that the law, despite several progressive judgments in recent years, is still lacking. Coming to the aid of the LGBTQI community is a manual titled The Law isn't Straight: A Queer Person's Guide to Accessing Rights, which helps individuals understand essential topics such as health, identity documents and violence, created by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
It is intended to be the starting point for those people who want to access the legal system, which the Vidhi Centre believes functions within a gender binary and fails to provide queer people with the same rights that are afforded to cisgender and heterosexual people. In terms of identity documents, it provides guidelines for changing one's gender and name, but also highlights minutiae like how Aadhaar officials are not needed to verify one's gender, or that when one visits the notary office to get an affidavit notarised, one must dress the part of the gender one identifies with, and carry necessary documents if one has undergone gender affirming surgery or a medical procedure for transition.
It also mentions the gender markers that are provided by each identity document, as well as the possible issues one may encounter, such as with the passport, as some countries abroad may not have one's gender as a category in their documents.
The manual has sections on education and personal finances. In terms of education, it sheds light on the legal provisions that are in place to fight against discrimination and the measures that have been taken to make campuses trans-inclusive. When it comes to personal finances, it clarifies how one can transfer property to one's partner, since the process can be difficult considering that only heterosexual relationships are recognised by most authorities. It outlines how documents like gift deeds and wills can be created. It also provides information on how queer people can face challenges while trying to claim property that was owned by their parents or other family members, as inheritance laws do not recognise queer persons.
It also contains an essential section on health — mental and sexual — which clarifies common misconceptions about how being gender-nonconforming is not a disorder, and the discrimination one can face at a hospital. It also outlines the various processes that constitute Gender Affirmative Therapy, and the effects they have on one's body.
The manual provides information on violence and the approaches one can take if one is the survivor or person accused. It has a subsection on using dating apps, with practical advice on sharing sensitive information.
Notably, it also contains a glossary of terms that one may have heard or read several times, but which one may not know the exact meaning of, such as 'non-bailable offences' and 'civil and criminal proceedings'.
Read the manual here.
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Updated Date: Apr 02, 2018 16:45:21 IST