Kerala: Woman Approaches Kerala High Court To Get Her Detained Lesbian Partner Free

The petitioner fears that her partner’s family is buying time to coerce her and make her undergo conversion therapy.

The rainbow-coloured flag has emerged as the symbol of the LGBTQ-rights movement over the years.

Sumayya Sherin, 21, has filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court to get her lesbian partner Afeefa released from the custody of her family. 

Summaya, a native of Kondoty in Kerala’s Malappuram district, has said that Afeefa was “abducted” by her family and their henchmen from the café they work at on May 30, 2023. 

“There were a large group of people, her family members and others. They forcefully took her into a car. I was prevented from even going near the car,” Sumayya told Outlook. 

Eleven days have passed since this incident and there is no news of Afeefa. Sumayya is worried about her partner. Here is the story of a woman who openly asserted her identity as lesbian and has taken a stand for her right to live with her partner.

According to the writ petition submitted in the Kerala High Court, both Sumayya and Afeefa had been friends since early school days. By class 12, both of them fell in love with each-other. In the writ petition, Sumayya identifies herself as a person assigned female by birth and lesbian by choice. When their families learnt about their relationship, they decided to elope because both the families started coercive measures to separate them. Afeefa was harassed and was forced to undergo conversion therapy. 

Afeefa and Sumayya left home on January 27. On the ‘man missing case’ filed by the families, both were summoned by the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court at Malappuram and the court issued an order in favour of the couple and allowed them to live as per their free will. Relieved by the court order, Afeefa and Sumayya moved to Kochi and managed to find job at a café and had been living in a rented house. Life was peaceful until they were found by their families again.

The writ of habeas corpus was heard by the High Court on Friday, but Afeefa was not produced in the court. The counsel appeared on behalf of her family and sought time and the case was posted to June 19. Sumayya is worried that Afeefa’s family is buying time to coerce her and to make her undergo conversion therapy. Sumayya also presumes that they might even take her out of the country and her life could also be under threat. 

In a similar case in May 2022, the Kerala High Court allowed a lesbian couple, Adhila Nasrin and Fatima Noora, to go on as per their free will and live together. In the habeas corpus petition filed by Adhila, the High Court asked the police to produce Noora who was forcefully taken away by her parents. Adhila and Noora managed to get employment at a private firm and have been living together. 

In 2018, 40-year-old Sreeja, a native of Kollam, appealed to the High Court that her lesbian partner, 24-year-old Aruna, was illegally confined by the latter’s parents. In that case too, the couple were given the permission by the lower court to go on as per their free will. Despite having the order of the magistrate court to live together, Aruna was forcefully taken by her parents and was admitted in a mental health hospital. After this, Sreeja approached the High Court with a writ of habeas corpus.

Relying on various judgments by the apex court, the Kerala High Court observed that “the live-in relationship between the parties will not offend any provisions of law and not a crime in any manner”. The Court relied on the landmark judgment in Navatej Singh Johar Vs Union of India case, which states: “Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality and it is only constitutional morality that can be allowed to permeate into the Rule of Law. The veil of social morality cannot be used to violate fundamental rights of even a single individual, for the foundation of constitutional morality rests upon the recognition of diversity that pervades the society.”

Considering the precedents, Sumayya hopes that the court would take a decision in her favour and she and her partner would be allowed to live a life of their choice.