Extend Garima Greh scheme to entire LGBTQIA+ community: HC

Don’t restrict benefit to transpersons alone, it tells Centre

December 28, 2021 12:25 am | Updated 12:25 am IST - CHENNAI

In a big fillip to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and others (LGBTQIA+) community, the Madras High Court has disapproved of the practice of Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment restricting the benefit of ‘Garima Greh’ scheme only to transgenders.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh wrote: “In the considered view of this court, the transgender persons are only a fraction of the entire LGBTQIA+ community. The benefit under the scheme has to be extended to the entire LGBTQIA+ community. The Ministry shall take this into consideration and enlarge the scope of the scheme.”

The observations were made in the latest interim order passed by the court as part of a series of orders issued since March on the issue. When he called for a report from the Centre, the Ministry reported it had a mandate to deal with transgender persons alone for whom it had introduced ‘Garima Greh’ scheme.

Under the scheme, the transgender persons get a secure living space and care. The Centre had provided 100% financial assistance for setting up such shelters in 12 States including Tamil Nadu. Basic requirements such as food, counselling, medical services and skill development training would be provided in those shelters.

Stressing the importance of extending the scheme to entire LGBTQIA+ community, the judge said: “Only then can it be considered a wholesome and non-discriminative scheme...The Ministry has to bear in mind that persons from LGBTQIA+ community do not have any support from their family or from the society at large.”

Ray of hope

He went on to state: “The welfare schemes provided by the government are their only ray of hope. In view of the same, this court expects the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to extend the Garima Greh scheme to all persons from the LGBTQIA+ community.” He called for a report in this regard by February 18.

The judge also wanted the Ministry to upload on its website the list of non governmental organisations that offer support to the community. Disapproving of the delay in uploading the details, he said: “Unless this process is undertaken, LGBTQIA+persons run the risk of abuse and threat amidst other hardships.”

On being told that National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had pulled down from its website a training material for school teachers on transgender concerns only to review it and not because of any external pressure, the judge hoped that the material would be reviewed and implemented during the next academic session.

The judge also recorded a list of English and Tamil terms that could be used while reporting issues concerning LGBTQIA+ community and made an “earnest request” to the media to begin using those terms to give a dignified identity to people belonging to the community. Advocate S. Manuraj, who had been assisting the court on the issue, had submitted the terms.

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