National News

Centre Forms Six-Member Panel For LGBTQ+ Community Issues

In a significant move, the Indian government has constituted a six-member committee to examine various issues faced by the queer community. This development comes after the Supreme Court recently refused to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages, instead directing the Centre to address the matter through legislation.

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The government order, issued on Tuesday, April 16, states that the Cabinet Secretary will chair the panel and includes secretaries from critical ministries such as Home Affairs, Social Justice and Empowerment, Law and Justice, Women and Child Development, and Health and Family Welfare.

The committee’s mandate is wide-ranging and is tasked with formulating measures to ensure the LGBTQ+ community does not face discrimination in accessing goods, services, and social welfare entitlements. Crucially, the panel will also examine ways to protect queer individuals from threats of “violence, harassment, or coercion.”

Additionally, the committee will look into preventing involuntary medical treatments and surgeries from being imposed on LGBTQ+ persons, an issue of grave concern for the community.

The formation of this high-level panel comes six months after the Supreme Court, in its October 2023 judgment, directed the government to constitute such a committee. While the court refrained from granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages, it acknowledged the need to address the pressing issues faced by the queer community.

Interestingly, the government’s move follows the release of the Congress party’s election manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The manifesto stated that, if elected, the party would legalize civil unions for LGBTQ+ couples, a significant policy shift that could further spur the government’s efforts in this domain.

The committee has been granted the flexibility to onboard additional subject matter experts if required, underscoring the government’s intent to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the community’s concerns.

This development marks a crucial step in the long-standing struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in India. By constituting a high-powered panel to examine discrimination, violence, and access to welfare schemes, the government has acknowledged the need to improve the lived experiences of queer individuals in the country.

As the committee commences its work, the LGBTQ+ community and allies will be closely watching to see if the government’s actions can translate into tangible improvements in their daily lives and equal treatment under the law.

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