Many 'others' enrol for voting ahead of polls

140 persons have enrolled, identifying themselves as LGBT

It was exactly two decades ago in the year 1994 that lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders  (LGBT) were granted voting rights in the country. It seems to be bearing fruits, with ‘others’ as the afore mentioned community people are addressed as, are coming out in good numbers to enrol in the voter’s list ahead of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held in nine phases from April 7.

Ashodaya Samiti, an organisation in Mysore district working for the welfare of the afore mentioned communities along with female and male sex workers (MSW) has enrolled around 80 fellow members to exercise their franchise in the biggest democratic exercise.

In Mysore city alone, the population of ‘third sex’ is over 1,000. The first and foremost hurdle for them is lack of permanent residence, as they are forced to shift from one place to another due to society’s backlash.

This continued to stymie their shift into the mainstream, until they organised themselves under Ashodaya, claims its leader Pranathi Prakash, also a transgender.

According to Pranathi, in the case of lack of residential proof, the ID cards issu
ed by the Samiti has come in handy, with the district administration considering it as a nodal agency. As a result, around 80 individuals who had enrolled in the voter’s list are learnt to have got voting rights, with their names being announced in the list.

Among them, around 32 of them have already got Election Photo Identity Cards (EPIC). This apart, around 60 existing voters (making up for 10 to 15 pc among the community members), have received corrected EPICs, making for a total of 140 individuals. The numbers are said to increase in the coming days.

These (10 to 15 pc) were the people who had earlier enroled in the voters list as males, and later stayed away from participating in the democratic exercise, after declaring themselves as transgenders, owing to the stigma attached to it.

Now, many including Pranathi, who had stayed away from the electoral process ever since she identified herself as transgender six years ago, have got a corrected EPIC.

Instead of male and female they are addressed as ‘others’ in the voter’s ID.
Pranathi thanks Deputy Commissioner C Shikha, also the district electoral officer (DEO) for considering the Samiti as nodal agency to facilitate the process.

An exclusive Aadhaar card enrolment centre was opened at the Samiti with a majority of them boasting of the unique ID card. Mention must be made of women and child development department too, for joining hands with the Samiti in their empowerment.

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