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LGBT rights in India

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in India may face difficulties from the law and the society. Non-LGBT persons do not commonly face these difficulties. India has removed laws that treated gay sex and transgender people unfairly. But Indian laws do not completely protect from unfair treatment or allow same-sex marriage.[1]

Unofficial pride flag for Indian LBGTQ+ community

Since 2014, transgender people in India may change their gender without surgery. The constitution also gives them a right to name themselves under a third gender. Some states also protect hijras, who are traditional third gender people in South Asia, through housing programmes, welfare benefits, pension schemes, and free operations in government hospitals. There are about 4.8 million transgender people in India.[2][3][4]

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India said that homosexuality was not a crime. It declared that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code did not follow the constitution when adults had consensual homosexual sex.[5] Homosexuality was never illegal in ancient Indian and traditional codes. It was made a crime by the British during their rule in India.

Though LGBT rights have been spoken for in recent political movements, much homophobia is still present among the people. A poll from 2019 says that around half of Indians object to same-sex relationships. Hindu respondents accept the LGBT community the highest.[6] In 2010s, LGBT people in India gained tolerance and acceptance, especially in large cities.[7] Still, most LGBT people in India remain hidden because they fear unfair treatment from their families who might see homosexuality as shameful.[7]

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Gay Pride parade in Bangalore, Karnataka (2013)

Marriages between people of the same sex are not allowed in India by law. Same-sex couples are also not given rights of civil union or a household partnership. In 2011, a Haryana court marked a same-sex marriage involving two women as lawful.[1] After marrying, the couple got threats from friends and relatives in their village. Their family finally accepted their marriage.[8]

In October 2017, a group of citizens advised that a new Uniform Civil Code be created. This code would make the same-sex marriage lawful before the Law Commission of India.[9]

There are now many same-sex marriage applications still waiting to be judged by the courts.

Article 15 of the Indian Constitution protects Indian citizens from unfair treatment[10][11]

The Supreme Court of India has ruled that unfair treatment because of sexual orientation and gender identity did not follow the Constitution. [source?]

Even after this, no clear law bans unfair treatment based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. India does not have detailed laws which protect against most unfair treatment and harassment in private jobs. (Such laws exist for sexual harassment though.) Article 15 only covers unfair treatment by government bodies.[source?]

In 2019, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 was accepted. The law bans unfair treatment against transgender people in private jobs, education and healthcare.[source?]

LGBT activists are reaching out to people who have faced unfair treatment (because of their sexual orientation or gender identity) in private jobs or other non-governmental areas. They are asking such people to question the two rulings in court. They are also fighting for a clear law against unfair treatment. Such a law would also cover private unfair treatment.[source?]

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