Shivani ‘Shivy’ Bhat was an Indian-origin citizen of the USA. He had grown up in the USA and was pursuing his further studies there. When he was visiting his ancestral home in Uttar Pradesh (UP) with his family, his family confiscated his passport and green-card. Shivy’s family harassed and beat him. They also forcibly enrolled him in a local college. These actions were an attempt of the family to “cure” his gender non-conformity.
Shivy managed to contact a local NGO and receive temporary shelter and support. His mother registered a complaint of kidnapping at the New Agra Police Station. The UP and New Delhi police harassed Shivy and the persons who were providing him support on the pretext of finding him.
ISSUES AND DECISION:
The Court had to determine whether Shivy’s family was appropriate in confining him. It held that Shivy had been subjected to illegal confinement, harassment and rebuke by his family and the police of UP and Delhi.
In response to an interim order of the Court, Shivy’s parents had retracted their police complaint and agreed to support Shivy’s return to the US to continue his studies. The Court appreciated the parents’ changed stance. Further, it issued an order to the UP and Delhi police to refrain from harassing transgender persons.
Finally, the Court upheld the right of all persons to certain inalienable rights. It also placed sexual orientation and gender identity as essential aspects of the fundamental right to self-determination, dignity and freedom.
This judgment emphasised the marginalisation and exclusion of transgender persons in society. It recognised that negative social attitudes against transgender persons caused police and family interference. Significantly, the Court upheld the Supreme Court judgement and directions in NALSA v Union of India judgement.
Activists considered the judgement significant for its affirmation of the rights of transgender men and recognition of the diversity of the transgender community. However, groups also noted that the judgement used female pronouns and not Shivy’s male pronouns.