Transwoman Pandian was detained by Chennai Police on suspicion of larceny on May 1, 2006. She was released on bond two weeks later, but the cops continued to pursue her — every day at 8 a.m., a constable would take her up and only let her return at 11 a.m. At the station, she was tortured and sexually tormented, and when her relatives tried to intervene, her mother was beaten severely. Pandian did use herself in kerosene and immolated herself in June of that year, unable to face the shame. The Madras high court (HC) penalized the negligent cops and ordered compensation for the family a year later, confirming that she had been abused in detention.
Tamil Nadu made a step this week toward averting future tragedies like this. It was the first state in India to include an explicit clause in the statute regulating its police force prohibiting harassment of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) groups or members of organizations that strive to protect them. The measure, which came after directives from the Madras High Court, aims to increase law enforcement personnel’s knowldecriminalizedalized communities.
Although India has decriminalised homosexuality, verified transpeople’s rights, and passed a law to protect them, these communities’ social and official acceptance remains ambivalent. Parents and families continue to discriminate against LGBT people, leading many to flee their homes and seek refuge in the courts. Regrettably, law enforcement is frequently used as a weapon against these communities, and the possibility of incarceration keeps them from approaching the cops. If followed to the letter, the new provision can assist these communities in obtaining legal protections and constitutional rights, as well as seeking redress when discriminated against at home, at work, or in public places. Other states should think about doing the same.