CHENNAI: In a significant move, the Tamil Nadu government has amended the Tamil Nadu Subordinate Police Officers’ Conduct Rules to prevent harassment of any person from the LGBTQIA+ community and the people working for the welfare of the community.
According to the order from the Home Department, issued on Tuesday, rule 24C will be added below rule 24B of the conduct rules, stating, “No police officer shall indulge in any act of harassment of any person belonging to the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) + Community and the people working for the welfare of the community.”
The order explains that for the purpose of this rule, “harassment does not include the right of police to make any inquiry as per the procedure established by law.” The move follows a Madras High Court order last year, directing the State government to amend the police conduct rules by including a provision for punishment if any police personnel harasses LGBTQIA+ people or NGOs assisting them.
The order of Justice N Anand Venkatesh said, “A specific clause is to be added in the Police Conduct Rules specifically providing that any harassment by the police to the persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community and/or to the activists and NGO workers, will be treated as misconduct and will entail a punishment for such misconduct.”
‘Amendment will provide hope in life’
The court order was the result of a protection plea filed by a lesbian couple, who had faced harassment from the police. S Manuraj, the lawyer who filed the protection plea, said this amendment works in two ways. “First, it ensures there is no harassment. Second, this amendment mentions the LGBTQIA+ community meaning the government has recognised people belonging to the entire community, not just parts of the community.
This amendment will help the community in initiating disciplinary action against errant police officials,” he said. Welcoming the move, Magdalene Jeyarathnam, a psychodrama therapist working with the LGBTQIA+ community for the past 15 years said, “This is an important step, especially for the women in the community. This ensures that even people in the community will have the fundamental rights.”
“This amendment will provide hope in life for struggling people in the community. This is a really important move,” said Malini Jeevarathnam, a filmmaker and a queer activist said. She said after Section 377 of the IPC was read down there was an improvement for the people in the community and this amendment is another step in the right direction.