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Trans Indians ramp up protests against ‘discriminatory’ bill

Trans Indians ramp up protests against ‘discriminatory’ bill

Protesters gather to condemn India's trans bill (Photo: Twitter)

Transgender Indians and their allies have been urgently rallying against a transgender bill.

They want the bill to be overhauled before it is considered by the upper house of parliament on Tuesday (8 January).

Over the weekend, the trans community gathered in cities across India to encourage the upper house to reject the bill. They want a parliamentary committee to review the law.

India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill last month. It was supposed to protect their rights.

But, the transgender community has slammed it. They claim it infringes their rights rather than protecting them.

Photos shared online show large protests in Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai over the weekend.

The hashtag #Stoptransbill2018 was trending on Twitter in India. The country’s largest #MeToo Twitter account has also been tweeting support for trans right activists.

More than 10,000 Indians have contacted upper house parliament members to object to the bill, according to activists.

It follows a ‘day of rage’ late last month in which trans groups converged on parliament in the capital Delhi.

‘Extremely problematic’ bill

Activist Meera Sanghamitra described the bill as ‘extremely problematic’.

On Twitter, Sanghamitra complained that the bill denied the right to self identify. Indians would be ‘inspected’ before they could officially change gender according to the bill.

The new law would also criminalize begging. Many trans Indians rely on begging as a livelihood.

Discrimination prevents them from mainstream education and workplaces. The new bill also has no provisions to encourage integration, they argue.

It also offers no extra protection for trans Indians. Currently, charges of stalking, sexual assault, and rape, apply only to cisgender women.

Critics also argue the bill conflates intersex and trans identities and encourages only heteronormative family units.

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.