Protest against Transgender bill's regressive clauses

Protest against Transgender bill's regressive clauses

Members of the transgender community on Sunday protested near the Parliament, against a proposed legislation, which they said would snatch away their constitutional rights as human beings.

The opposition was against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which is scheduled for consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha this winter session.

The community is against some key provisions in the bill such as an incorrect definition of the term "transgender" and a provision to take a certificate from a district magistrate after going through a screening process.

"Self-identification in any gender should be upheld and extended to all forms of IDs and educational documents, especially for runaway children," non-governmental organisation Saheli that works with the community said in a press statement.

Drafted by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the bill, however, has several regressive clauses, the NGO said.

Suggestions ignored

Many recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee that reviewed the draft legislation were ignored.

For instance, the House panel suggested "any procedure for 'identification of transgender persons' which goes beyond self-identification, and is likely to involve an element of medical, biological or mental assessment, would violate transgender persons' rights under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution."

But the bill has a provision of having a district screening committee on the basis of which the district magistrate would issue a certificate.

The draft law also proposes to criminalise the traditional livelihood means of Hijjras and Kinnars through an anti-begging clause, which the committee felt could be misused. At the moment, there are few livelihood options for them.

After nearly 70 years of neglect, a law to protect the rights of the transgender people began to take shape in 2015 in the wake of a Supreme Court judgement and passing of a private member bill, moved by DMK's Tiruchi Shiva, in the Rajya Sabha.

For the first time in 2011, the census exercise assessed the number of transgenders and came up with a total population figure of nearly 4.88 lakh. This, however, could very well be an understatement as cross-sexual preference is still a big societal taboo in India.

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