Spas discontent with cross-gender massage ban

With the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) announcing a ban on “cross-gender massages” for spas and massage centres falling under its jurisdiction on Monday, establishment owners and spa associations voiced their discontent and said that the new rules would be “difficult to follow”.

A spa owner from south Delhi said his establishment has been “shut since the second lockdown” was initiated. “Earlier, my establishment was shut for close to 10 months because of the first lockdown. If we have to reopen, we will have to hire trained staffers according to the new policy and that will add to the ongoing financial struggle. Cross-gender massages happen all over the world and the new rules will definitely leave many unemployed. It is wrong,” he said.

Pooja Chatterjee, president of Delhi Wellness Spa Association (DWSA), said that a “fresh petition will be filed” against the new rules. Previously, a plea challenging the ban on cross-gender massages was filed by Association of Wellness Ayurveda & Spa (AWAS) in the Delhi High Court.

“We are waiting for the decision of the writ petition. Don’t you think that members of the LGBTQIA society will have an issue with these rules? We are not going to tolerate this ban on cross-gender massages and the separation of male and female sections. It is not possible,” said Ms. Chatterjee.

Cites Madras HC order

Ravi Tandon, vice president of the DWSA and owner of two city-based spas, cited the Madras High Court order that had ruled in favour of cross-gender massages in 2019. He added, “Nobody can discriminate on the basis of gender, I don’t understand how these new rules can be approved. There is a clear order from the Madras High Court that banning of cross-gender massages was not the solution to stop illegal sex trade.”

The Madras High Court’s 2019 order had also stated that “sexual favours” were not limited to the heterosexual domain and that it could continue in a same gender setup.

Lovely Verma, a transgender, stated that the new rules for spas will “definitely affect” her choice”.

“Although I identify as a woman, I don’t think I will get to choose the gender of the massage therapist that I am comfortable with. Will there be a transgender person for us? What provisions have been put in place for the LGBTQ community,” she questioned.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 1:34:43 PM |

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