Lok Sabha approves transgender persons rights bill

Transgender persons during a protest against 'TG Bill 2016' at Parliament Street in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill that seeks to empower the transgender community by providing them a separate identity, amid calls from the Opposition to defer the legislation for wider debate.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill also seeks to prohibit discrimination against such persons, including unfair treatment, denial of service in relation to education, employment, healthcare, access to public goods and facilities, right to movement, right to rent or own property, opportunity to hold public or private office.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said that the government had accepted as many as 27 suggestions made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee and agreed to amend the bill accordingly.

Flawed bill

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor described the bill as “flawed” as it prohibits discriminatory practices against transgender persons but fails to define discrimination.

“The law must make it clear that even transgender persons without the certificate of gender identity must be allowed to complain of gender discrimination,” Tharoor argued.

He said the bill also does not specify a mechanism to deal with complaints nor does it lay down a time-table to redress grievances.

He also objected to the provision in the bill that allowed a District Screening Committee to certify someone as a transgender person. “Self-determination of gender is the integral part of personal autonomy and we cannot take away the liberty of a person to say I believe I am transgender by putting a Committee to decide for this person,” Tharoor said, urging the minister to withdraw the bill.

NCP member Supriya Sule wanted Transgender Commissions to be set up at the state level as well. She also wanted the government to set up Welfare Boards to ensure that transgenders get their rights.

Gehlot said the bill was complete and there was no need for more discussion.

Objectives

He said the objectives of the bill include protecting interests of transgenders, defining the term 'transgender', giving them recognition and setting up of a national transgender council.

The bill was passed after incorporating 27 amendments moved by the government.

The genesis of the bill lies in the personal initiative taken by DMK member Tiruchi Siva, who had moved a private member's bill on the issue in the Rajya Sabha in 2015. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha.

However, the government introduced its own bill in 2016 in the Lok Sabha, which was examined by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

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Lok Sabha approves transgender persons rights bill

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