Resist the Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill 2016

Protest the Retrograde and Draconian Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill 2016, Which Is A Direct Threat to the Rights and Dignity of Trans-gender Persons!

Resist the Bill In Its Present Form! Stand Against the Violation of Transgender Rights!

Photo Courtesy-Hindustan Times

The trans and queer communities have led an inspiring struggle against discrimination and social injustice to demand equality, legal rights and opportunities for education and livelihood. The struggle still continues as the government threatens to introduce a deeply problematic Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 in the Parliament in the ongoing winter session. The bill in its current form brazenly ignores many critical recommendations and suggestions made by various trans activists and collectives threatening to marginalize further a community vulnerable to naming and shaming, homelessness, violence and police brutality.

In April 2014 the Supreme Court had given an unprecedented judgment directing the Government to ensure reservations in education and public appointments for transgender persons in response to a writ petition filed by the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) along with other petitioners. The Court held the Government of India responsible for combating social stigma, creating public awareness and providing medical support, public facilities and welfare. In 2015, the Ministry of Social Justice brought forth the draft of yet another Bill in the Lok Sabha, which largely did away with the progressive measures of the NALSA judgment. In 2016, the Ministry of Social Justice put forward a modified version of its bill adding some extremely regressive provisions and was met with widespread resistance. The Central Government formed a Standing Committee with claims to better understand the issues. The Standing Committee brought out a broadly progressive report in 2017 suggesting changes, but also indicated the largely negative response of the Ministry of Social Justice to its own recommendations. Media reports have recently indicated that the Ministry plans to disregard most of the Standing Committee recommendations on the matter.

The BJP Government’s current version of this Bill reduces the definition of transgender to utterly humiliating terms like “neither wholly male nor wholly female” denying transgender persons the right to self-determination of gender identity upheld by the NALSA judgment. According to the NALSA judgment every individual had the right to chose one’s gender, a progressive move that the current BJP government rejects and instead imposes their version that proposes a District Screening Committee to be set up to “screen” and “certify” a person’s gender. This version also provides no clarity on any appropriate institutional mechanism with no specifications on any formal body for grievance redressal.

Further, there continue to be no provisions made for affirmative action against discrimination, violence, misrepresentation in media or in the favour of equal rights to marriage, family and adoption.

This version of the bill criminalizes begging even as the Standing Committee clearly reports that “the trans-gender community does not enjoy parity with other genders when it comes to alternative modes of employment”. The clause also ignores the fact that most transgender persons and Hijra communities are harassed or booked under the begging prohibition laws making them susceptible to physical and sexual violence.

We demand that the self-identification in any gender should be upheld and extended to all forms of ID and educational documents, removing the dangerous provision of district screening committees including an unconditional upholding of the NALSA Judgement that it is “immoral and illegal for governments to insist” on surgery or hormones for declaring gender, and the Standing Committee recommendation “that any procedure for ‘identification of transgender persons’ which goes beyond self-identification, and is likely to involve an element of medical, biological or mental assessment, would violate transgender persons’ rights under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution”. The clause criminalizing begging must be removed and the Bill must ensure gender-based internal reservation for trans persons with a strong anti-discrimination provisions for educational and employment access.

AISA appeals to all progressive sections to come together and resist the tabling of this regressive version of the Trans Rights Bill and join the protest called by transgender and queer community collectives with the strength of our numbers. Resist transphobia and end violence and discrimination against transgender and intersex individuals!

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