Transgender Indians on Wednesday (19 December) protested against a bill claiming to protect their rights.
India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill on Monday.
But, the transgender community has slammed it. They claim it infringes their rights rather than protecting them.
Transgender protestors in south India’s Bengaluru gathered outside the town hall to protest the bill.
Footage shared on social media showed them holding placards, chanting and singing.
‘The community wasn’t consulted’ one of the protesters said, according to local media.
‘The Bill doesn’t consider reservations in jobs and education, most of us are forced to beg & the bill criminalises begging’ they said, according to the Economic Times.
Members of the trans community also took to social media to protest the bill. One shared footage of them burning an imitation of the bill.
‘Burial of rights’
India recognized transgender as a third gender in a landmark ruling in 2014.
But, transgender people remain marginalized and at risk of abuse. They had hoped the new bill would protect their rights.
Now, however, rights groups are urging lawmakers in the upper house of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, to smack down the bill.
Local thinktank Arguendo dismissed the bill as a ‘burial of human rights’.
’The govt passed the trans bill without taking into account any demands or suggestions made by trans communities’ trans group Sampoorna wrote on Twitter. ‘The govt clearly doesn’t care about trans rights or our lives’.
In fact, the bill faced condemnation before it even passed the lower house. In a raucous session, MP Shashi Tharoor spoke out against the bill.
’The bill has completely omitted to address critical issues such as the applications of laws on marriage, divorce and inheritance for the transgender community’ he said.
Many offences under India’s Penal Code, such as rape, stalking, and sexual harassment, only apply if the victim is female. The transgender bill fails to address this, Tharoor said.
The bill also conflates intersex with transgender. Furthermore, it fails to enshrine the right to self-identify gender.
The Telangana Hijra-Trans Samiti said it violates more rights than it protects. It upholds criminalization of trans people for organized begging, while denying any opportunities in education, employment, healthcare.