Lesbians, gays and bisexuals not third gender, clarifies SC

Lesbians, gays and bisexuals not third gender, clarifies SC

Says 2014 judgment self-explanatory

Lesbians, gays and bisexuals not third gender, clarifies SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday clarified that its verdict — recognising transgenders as a third category, other than male or female — does not include lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and N V Ramana, however, pulled up the Union government for seeking a modification of the April 15, 2014, judgment, saying it was amply clear.

“Our judgment is self-explanatory. Why should we not dismiss the application with cost,” the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, who, representing the Centre, submitted that it was required to state that the term transgender did not include lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

The law officer contended that it would create difficulty if no modification was issued, as transgenders were to be treated as OBC, giving them reservation in jobs and admission to educational institutions. He cited a paragraph from the 2014 judgment underlining that the term ‘transgender’ can be construed in a wider sense to connote the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Senior advocate Anand Grover submitted that the Union government has not been implementing the judgment for the past two years.

The bench disposed of the application by observing that the judgment, at more than one place, clearly stated that  transgenders would not mean lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

In its modification application, the government had resisted the direction to classify all transgenders as OBCs. But on Thursday, the Centre confined itself to the plea of clarification only.

With the court’s order on Thursday, the Union government would be left with no option than to implement the historic verdict recognising transgenders as third gender and considering them as socially and economically backward classes. 

Notably, a separate matter, also concerning the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, is pending adjudication before the apex court, wherein the activists sought a direction to de-criminalise gay sex among consenting adults.

In 2014, acting on a PIL by National Legal Services Authority, the apex court had said, “Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom, and no one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex re-assignment surgery, sterilisation or hormonal therapy as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity.”

The discrimination faced by transgenders, also known as ‘Hijras’, eunuchs, ‘Kothis’, ‘Aravanis’, ‘Jogappas’, ‘Shiv-Shakthis’ etc, was “unimaginable” and their rights had to be protected, the court had said.

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