The Madras High Court on Friday urged the Tamil Nadu government to come up with a procedure for registering the deed of familial association to recognise the rights of LGBTQIA+ partners, reported Bar and Bench.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh gave the suggestion on an intervening petition filed by a person named Prasanna. The court was originally hearing a plea by a lesbian couple seeking protection from their relatives.

Prasanna said in the petition that there was a need for familial recognition among the LGBTQIA+ persons who choose to form and retain families. They suggested that two persons will have a right to live in a relationship and also get a right to protection through the deed of familial association.

According to the petitioner, the deed will come in handy in the event of harassment, violence or ill-treatment by society or even the biological families. It will also help LGBTQIA+ persons if they face discrimination that can impact gainful employment, housing and assimilation in society.

While disposing of the petition, Justice Venkatesh noted that the Supreme Court had recognised the right to choice of two persons to have a relationship and their right to protection while hearing a series of pleas seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriages.

Although the top court on October 17 refused to legalise same-sex marriages in India, it directed the Central and state governments to ensure that members of the queer community are not discriminated against because of their identity.

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had also directed the authorities to sensitise the public about queer rights, to create a hotline for the queer community, to create safe houses for queer couples and to ensure that inter-sex children are not forced to undergo sex-change operations.

“Material benefits and services flowing to heterosexual couples and denied to queer couples will be a violation of their fundamental right,” the chief justice had said.

On this basis, Justice Venkatesh on Friday said that since the Supreme Court has categorically recognised the right of choice of two persons to have a relationship, such persons must have protection to live in society without being disturbed or harassed.

“For that purpose, the deed of familial association will at least give some respect and status to such relationship,” the court said.

It directed the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department to consider a system for registering deeds of familial association in a new policy being framed for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“If that is done, the state will be able to give its stamp of approval to persons, who are in a relationship in the community and to a great extent, this will enhance the status of such persons in the society,” said the court.