The law isn’t straight: A queer person’s guide to accessing rights


This document titled The law isn’t straight is meant to be a “queer person’s guide to accessing rights.” While the Supreme Court of India has made some progressive judgements, laws in India remain discriminatory in many ways towards people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. This manual is made with the understanding that legal changes in India, with reference to the queer community, take time. It aims to help queer individuals find different ways to manage their daily lives while waiting for progress. 

The document was published in 2018 by the New Delhi-based Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, before the over-turning of Section 377. It is a multi-author publication with contributions from Arijeet Ghosh, Arpita Mitra, Danish Sheikh, Namrata Mukherjee, Nikita Khaitan and Nivedita Saksena.

It focuses on questions of identity documents, violence, education, health, and personal finances but leaves out the topics of birth certificates, housing and accessing rights as a minor, since these are areas with minimal legal guidelines or remedies. 

The section on identity documents includes instructions for the changing of name and gender in the Gazette, the Voter ID, Aadhar, PAN, driving license, passport and ration card. The publication also provides alternative instructions for those who might not possess one or more of the identity documents and lists potential problems that people might encounter in the process of changing their names and genders on each document. The section on ration card also outlines the process for those who identify outside the gender binary, since the existing legal guidelines in many states may not accommodate them.

Recognising the administrative and bureaucratic obstacles queer people face while managing their finances, the document highlights steps to navigate the transfer of property, opening of joint bank accounts and issues of insurance and inheritance. 

In addition to providing necessary information on mental and sexual health, it explains the concepts of gender affirmative therapy and surgery for intersex persons. The section also outlines a person’s rights while availing medical care in the country and options for legal remedies in case of mistreatment and violation of rights.

Another section in the document explains the rights of those who are accused of an offence as well as those who are survivors or victims of an offence. It outlines the process of arrest, custody, bail and trial in addition to giving instruction on how to file a criminal complaint with the police or magistrate. The document also highlights other avenues of approach in cases of extortion, wrongful confinement and custodial violence.

It lists offences frequently alleged against queer people in order to harass them. These include public nuisance, unnatural offences, grievous hurt and abduction.

This 110-page document consists of six sections: ID Documents (Section 1); Education (Section 2); Personal Finances (Section 3); Healthcare (Section 4); Violence (Section 5); and Annexes (Section 6).

Focus by Samina Bandukwala.

PARI Library’s health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


Arijeet Ghosh, Arpita Mitra, Danish Sheikh, Namrata Mukherjee, Nikita Khaitan and Nivedita Saksena


Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi


12 Mar, 2018