September 22nd 2015 Delhi High Court interim order in Shivani Bhat v State of NCT of Delhi and ors – a positive step for rights of people marginalized on the basis of gender and sexuality
In a remarkable interim order on 22nd September, the Delhi High Court directed the Delhi Police to provide protection to 19-year-old Shivy and LGBTQ activists supporting him from the harassment, intimidation and coercion they are facing by his family, Uttar Pradesh Police and Delhi Police. Shivy is a trans person (who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male), Indian citizen and resident of the U.S., whose family, on learning of his gender identity and sexual orientation, tricked him into returning to India from the US where he has lived since age 3 years and currently studies, confiscated his passport and green card, and forced him to stay in his grandparents’ home in Agra against his will. The queer activists who on his request helped him escape were harassed, intimidated and illegally surveilled for days by his family, the Delhi and UP Police.
Quoting playwright and activist late Safdar Hashmi who had talked about how our expression is based on the experience that we have, Justice Siddharth Mridul commented on how it was that people are so quick to pass judgement on things they know little about, that may not be their own experience, like sexual orientation. He noted that this was nothing but bigotry, though this is supposed to be a tolerant country.
25th September, 2015
In the wake of a controversial case of illegal confinement of an adult transperson and withholding of their travel and identity documents by his family, a press conference was held at the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) on 25th September, 2015 to highlight issues of transgender rights that have come up in Shivani Bhat v State of NCT of Delhi and others..
19-year-old transgender person Shivy, a citizen of India but a resident of the United States of America was illegally confined in his grandparents’ home in Agra when he came with his parents to visit them in the summer. While he was a victim of domestic abuse by his family even in his California home, on this visit to India his passport and green card were confiscated by his family and he was forced to remain in Agra under their control. Even under this duress, Shivy managed to contact queer feminist resource group Nazariya and other queer rights activists and request their help to come to a safe space in New Delhi.
Despite leaving a note informing his family that he was living of his own free will, his parents filed a missing person’s complaint with UP Police, who harassed, surveilled and threatened the activists who helped Shivy, illegally entered their homes without search warrants on September 21, and abused and threatened people in their homes and offices. The UP Police were enabled and supported by UP Crime Branch and Delhi Police. Subsequently lawyers Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, Shivy and the LGBT activists moved the Delhi High Court on September 22 seeking protection for Shivy, his friends and well wishers from harassment, intimidation and coercion, and to ask for the return of his passport and green card from his family.
In a remarkable interim order, Delhi High Court judge Siddharth Mridul granted Shivy and LGBT activists’ protection from any harassment by the police. Quoting playwright and activist late Safdar Hashmi who had talked about how our expression is based on the experience that we have, Justice Siddharth Mridul commented on how it was that people are so quick to pass judgment on things they know little about, that may not be their own experience, like sexual orientation. He noted that this was nothing but bigotry, though this is supposed to be a tolerant country.
The court also issued notice to respondents Delhi police, UP police and his parents. Despite the order, the next day the UP police continued to harass and surveil the activists involved in the case.
The press conference uncovered both the facts of the case and the frequent occurences of such situations where adult LGBTQ people are deprived of the constitutionally sanctioned rights to life, liberty, freedom of movement and expression, to name a few, by families in collusion with state machinery.
Queer rights activist Lesley Esteves pointed out that this was not the first time he had been threatened and intimidated by families for responding to requests for support from transgender persons facing such violence from families, and that it was remarkable that families would send aggressive police machinery in pursuit of their children, while claiming to be concerned about them. He noted that the police action was nothing more than an attempt by the family to cut off Shivy’s support system in India through intimidation, and the false missing person complaint was a naked attempt to get him back in their control. He said that families can expect state machinery to support them because of deep rooted societal homophobia and transphobia which treats LGBTQ people as not entitled to equal rights. But the law was in fact on Shivy’s side and the interim order effectively prevented the continued abrogation of his constitutional rights.
It is important to note that besides the fundamental rights available to Shivy, his affirming constitutional rights and freedoms as a transgender person have been upheld by the Supreme Court in its landmark 2014 NALSA judgement.
WATCH MORE VIDEOS from Nazariya’s YouTube channel.
- DNA: Transgender boy, Shivy, harassed, beaten by parents
Delhi High Court grants police protection to 19-year-old US transgender
- India West: Transgender US College Student Trapped in India
- The Hans India: Delhi HC provides protection to NRI transgender rescued from Agra
- NYOOZ: Activists hail Delhi HC order on transgender
UP cops harassing us for helping US transgender, allege LGBT activists
- The Indian Express: Activists hail Delhi HC order on transgender
UP cops harassing us for helping US transgender, allege LGBT activists
- NDTV: Delhi High Court Provides Police Protection to NRI Transgender Rescued from Agra
- Bharat Press: My Family is No Safe Place for Me: Transgender NRI
- Deccan Herald: HC gives protection to NRI transgender ‘forcibly’ brought here
- Daijiworld: My Family is No Safe Place for Me: Transgender NRI
- Press Trust of India: HC gives protection to NRI transgender
- Business Standard: My Family is No Safe Place for Me: Transgender NRI
HC gives protection to NRI transgender “forcibly” brought to India
- New Kerala: My Family is No Safe Place for Me: Transgender NRI
- CanIndia News: My Family is No Safe Place for Me: Transgender NRI
- Times of India: Delhi HC gives protection to NRI transgender “forcibly” brought to India
- India: HC gives protection to NRI transgender “forcibly” brought to India
- The Huffington Post: WATCH: 19-year-old Indian-Origin Transgender Man Needs Your Help
- ScoopWhoop: 19-Year-Old Forced To Stay In India By Parents Gets Help From Delhi HC
‘My Parents Abused Me Verbally & Physically’. Indian-American Transperson Opens Up About Harassment
- The Quint: Freedom from Gender, Freedom for Sexuality #MakeOutInIndia
#MakeOutInIndia: NRI Trans Man Appeals Against His Parents
- iDiva: A Horrid Tale of a 19-Year-Old Trans Person Abused by Parents for Not Being a ‘Proper Girl’
- Youth ki Awaaz: Forced Into Becoming A Proper Girl By Parents, Trans Teen Shivy Escapes To Share Stpry
- Gayapolis: Transgender Man in India Get Court Protection from Abusive Parents
- Storypick: An Indian Transperson Talks About How His Parents Tried To Fix Him & It’s Distressing
- Yahoo News UK: Transgender man tricked by Indian parents secures police protection
- Livemint: ‘There is no reason why I should go through this’: a first-person account of a teenage trans-man
- PinkNews: Indian court protects trans man ‘forced into arranged marriage’ with another man
- FTC Publications: India court protects US transgender man
- BBC News: India court gives police protection to US transgender man