Members of the trans community in India have protested a bill which was designed to protect their rights.
The demonstrators were protesting the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, in Mumbai on Wednesday (26 December).
The bill has been highly controversial among the trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming communities.
The protestors said that lawmakers did not adequately consult members of the trans community when drafting the bill, and includes provisions which could negatively impact livelihoods.
A number of the demonstrators said that they were prepared to go on hunger strike in opposition to the bill.
Similar protests against the bill took place in the southern city of Bengaluru on 19 December.
The bill has already passed through India’s lower parliamentary house, the Lok Sabha, and is awaiting ratification in the upper house, the Rajya Sabha.
Opponents have said the bill has highly problematic provisions.
This includes requiring members of the trans community undergoing ‘screening committees’ to determine if a person is trans or not, prohibiting begging and sex work, which a high number of trans people rely on for income, and labeling intersex people as trans.
Madhumita, a trans woman who was among bill’s the opponents, said that the bill threatened India’s transgender culture.
She said that the provisions in the bill prohibit members of the trans community from begging, and carry a maximum ten-year jail term if convicted of the offense.
Speaking to The Times of India, Madhumita said: ‘There is nothing that provides alternative employment opportunities. It is precisely because of a rigid mindset and discrimination at the workplace that transgenders resort to begging.’
Despite the backlash surrounding the bill, India has made some notable gains in regards to LGBTI rights over recent years.
The country officially recognized transgender as a third sex in a landmark ruling in 2014.
This September, India was lauded by LGBTI rights advocates after the country’s top court repealed Section 377.
The repeal decriminalized gay sex in the world’s most populous country and was considered a milestone in the global LGBTI rights movement.
However, India’s trans community still suffers from systemic discrimination and the constant threat of violence.