On Wednesday 13 February, Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of parliament in India, passed a bill removing leprosy as grounds for divorce. The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was passed without debate after consensus on the issue. Five personal laws, including the Hindu Marriage Act and Divorce Act (for Christians), had, for many years, given provision for a husband or wife to divorce their spouse if their spouse was diagnosed with leprosy.
Activists including TLM and other NGOs have worked long and hard to see this bill become law in an attempt to protect people affected by leprosy from being ostracised by their spouses and families.
TLM Trust India has been working with multiple stakeholders to make sure that laws that discriminate against people affected by leprosy are repealed, and that they are included in the development process as equal citizens.
“This is wonderful news,” said Nikita Sarah, head of advocacy and communication for TLM India, “news that we have long been waiting for. But our work is not finished. There are still 109 laws that discriminate against people affected by leprosy and we will continue our fight to see them all repealed.”
India is a signatory to a UN resolution that calls for the elimination of discrimination towards people affected by leprosy.