Delhi is all set to become the first state to seek equality before the law for every woman, irrespective of her sexual orientation through implementing recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee, constituted after the December 2012 gangrape in the national capital.
The Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) has placed the Charter of the Women’s Rights Bill, 2015 in public domain starting Wednesday. The third chapter that pertains to Right to Life, Security and Bodily Integrity says every woman, among other things, is entitled to “the right to exercise complete autonomy in personal relationships including with respect to her choice of partners.”
Along with this, chapter five states, “Every woman, irrespective of her sexual orientation, shall have the right to equality before the law and equal protection of all the laws.”
A number of stakeholders including the team of lawyers that were in the Justice JS Verma Committee were consulted by the DDC before forming the draft.
“The charter of the Bill has drawn inspiration from the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. The Constitution of India grants protection against discrimination on grounds of gender but this is the first time that a government has taken an active policy decision or even framed a clear policy granting protection under the law irrespective of sexual orientation,” one of these lawyers was quoted as saying in Indian Express.
On January 23, 2013, the Justice JS Verma Commmittee had submitted, “If human rights of freedom mean anything, India cannot deny the citizens the right to be different. The state must not use oppressive and repressive labeling of despised sexuality. Thus the right to sexual orientation is a human right guaranteed by the fundamental principles of equality. We must also add that transgender communities are also entitled to an affirmation of gender autonomy. Our cultural prejudices must yield to constitutional principles of equality, empathy and respect.”
The DDC will invite suggestions and consultations on their draft over the next four weeks, government sources said.