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Transgender Indians denounce bill that claims to protect their rights

Transgender Indians denounce bill that claims to protect their rights

Hijras in India

Transgender groups in India have slammed a bill passed by the lower house of parliament on Monday (17 December).

India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill with 27 amendments. It was first introduced in 2016.

But the transgender community on Tuesday slammed the bill. They said it was an invasion of privacy. They also warned it failed to protect rights of transgender persons.

’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’.

India recognized transgender as a third gender in a landmark ruling in 2014.

What’s more, in September, India’s Supreme Court ruled that a law making gay sex illegal was not constitutional.

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.

‘Burial of rights’

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.

‘My worry … is instead of supplementing the constitutional rights of the transgender community, this bill actually supplants their rights and its flawed provisions defeat its very purpose’ he also told parliament.

He urged the ruing party to withdraw the bill. He said it should be rewritten in consultation with the transgender community.

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. It also 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.

Local thinktank Arguendo dismissed the bill as a ‘burial of human rights’.

The group called out lawmaker Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar for incorrectly stating that the American Psychiatric Association considers gender dysphoria a a disease.

The Varta Trust said the bill was the ‘perfect example of zero transparency and accountability from the government’.


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