In a first, Odisha High Court allowed a person and their same-sex partner to live together, extending protection to the latter under Domestic Violence act. The couple will also be given state protection.

The decision was taken after Chinmayee Jena alias Sonu Krishna Jena, who identifies as he/his, filed a petition in the court for the same.

This was under Supreme Court’s order in the NALSA vs Union of India case of 2004, which gives recognition to the third gender and a right to a life without discrimination.

In his petition, Chinmayee said that his partner’s mother was forcing her not to stay in a live-in relationship with a person of same gender.

To this, division bench of Justices SK Mishra and Savitri Ratho, passed an order saying:

The state shall provide all kind of protection to them, which are enshrined in Part-III of the Constitution of India, which includes the right to life, right to equality before law and 18 equal protection of law. 

While adding:

There is hardly any scope to take a view other than holding that the petitioner has the right of self-determination of sex/gender and also he has the right to have a live-in relationship with a person of his choice even though such person may belong to the same gender as the petitioner.

The above orders were made by Justice Mishra. In addition to this, Justice Savitri Ratho said these empowering words, asserting that law changes as the norms change in the society and same-sex couples should be allowed to live together, just like everyone else.

Law is a reflection of current social values or norms…Social norms undergo change with time and law keeps abreast with the same courts recognise these changes and rule on the same.The oft quoted maxim: Love knows no bounds has expanded its bounds to include same sex relationships.

And in a refreshing take from a court, Ratho also told the petitioner’s partner’s mother that while her concerns about the future of her daughter are legitimate, she cannot tell her who to love and live with. 

On account of the possibility of social stigma or mental turmoil caused to them, the right to select her life partner cannot be stifled or negated.

In the end, the court wished the couple a ‘happy, harmonious life’ and said that the ‘society has no excuse to raise a finger at them’.

Living for news like this.