A transgender teen from the U.S. has been given police protection from an Indian court after his parents took away his passport and tried to force him into a marriage.
Shivani Bhatt, 19, who is an Indian citizen, but has been living in California since the age of three, ran away from the north Indian city of Agra where his parents took away his passport and green card before trying to forcibly marry him off to a man.
“They took away my mobile phone and laptop even while we were in America, but I still never imagined then that our annual holiday to India in July would have any other motive,” he told BBC Hindi.
In a video posted by the LGBT organization Nazariya Sept. 23, Bhatt said the trip was only supposed to last a week or two, but when his family arrived in India, they became verbally and physically abusive, and wouldn’t give him back his papers.
Bhatt, who was born female, but identifies as male, said that his parents brought him to the north Indian city of Agra to “fix” him once they found out that he had a girlfriend.
The Delhi High Court termed the alleged harassment as nothing short of “bigotry” and said that India was a land of tolerance.
Transgender activists and Nazariya arranged legal counsel and shelter for Bhatt in Delhi after he ran away from Agra earlier this month.
Bhatt has alleged in his petition that his father and some unknown men posing as police officers came to the residence of the activists who helped him, adding that he fears for their, and his own, safety, according to BBC Hindi.
He has asked the Delhi High Court to help him get his passport and green card back so that he can return to the United States where he is pursuing a neurobiology degree at the University of California.
The Delhi High Court has asked his parents and state police to respond to the allegations.