By Sharanya Gopinathan
The law isn’t straight.
Hee, what a delightful and energising revelation. It’s also the name of a new Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy manual on accessing your legal rights as a queer person. The manual covers identity documents (including changing your name and gender on school certificates, passports and other government documentation), violence, education, health, and personal finances (including your inheritance rights, the challenges you may face claiming your inheritance as a queer person, and how to frame your own will).
It’s also cognisant of what it can’t cover—it lays down straight off the bat that there are some issues that are of particular concern to queer people, like the trouble many people have finding safe housing but adds that it can’t cover these because the issues are beyond its scope, or because we don’t have sufficient legal tools, mechanisms and remedies to deal with them right now.
The section dealing with violence and how to engage with it legally is particularly frustrating, because it doesn’t just tell you what you’re supposed to do if subject to violence as a queer person. It also warns you about the different ways in which laws are commonly misused against queer people—that abduction cases are often filed against lesbians who leave home with their partners, usually by their own families, and how anti-begging laws (separately cruel and inhumane in themselves) and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act are used by police and others to target transgender persons.
It also contains a really nice section on health and healthcare, particularly for transpeople, that largely doesn’t have anything to do with the law. It’s a really useful section that tells you about mental health, sexual health, the various kinds of surgeries available to trans and intersex and people as well as their implications, and the things you need to do to access these surgeries, like obtain approval from two psychiatrists.
It’s an endlessly useful, and engaging and really nicely made manual, and you can access the full report here.
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