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India: The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 criminalises Transgender Persons

Transgender Protest in Delhi

Tuesday 19 December 2017, by siawi3


The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 criminalises Transgender Persons

ICF Team and Newsclick

December 19, 2017

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 poses threat to some of the basic rights of transgender people in India. Far from guaranteeing their protection, the bill gets the definition of a transgender person wrong, and ends up excluding a majority of the community. Individuals and groups came together to protest the bill at Parliament Street, Delhi on 17th December.




Transgender Protest in Delhi

Hundreds of transgender, intersex and gender non-confirming people came out to protest against the Transgender Persons Bill, 2016. While the Transgender Community had secured a major victory by way of the Nalsa judgment in 2014 and a bill granting the community its rights has been in the offing ever since, the Ministry of Social Justice brought forward a modified version of its bill in 2016. This version of the bill had regressive provisions and was met with widespread resistance.

Transgender Protest
Image: Aman Sinha

The protest at Parliament Street came in the backdrop of the central government’s decision to introduce the bill in the current winter session of parliament despite nationwide protests on key provisions of the bill.Some of the provisions that have the community up in the arms include mandatory medical testing and certification, criminalisation of begging and lack of clarity on reservation policies and affirmative action.Grace Banu from Tamil Nadu said “Without reservation, we have no opportunities. No one is ready to offer us the chance to work”. ChandramukhiMuvvala from Hyderabad said “Implement the NALSA judgment!“Veena from Karnataka said”Many of us come from poor backgrounds and our only acceptance is from the transgender community, our only livelihood is from traditional begging. If even that is criminalized, we will starve".

Image: Aman Sinha

The protest drew the support for D Raja, Member of Parliament who addressed protestors saying, “No one can tell you who you are. Go ahead and raise your voice. Let us see how sensitive the Parliament really is to the concerns of the people.” Kavita Krishnan from AIPWA also pledged her support to the protestors, linking their issues to the widespread curtailing of rights across minority communities. Representatives from JNU workers and students organizations, such as JNUSU, BAPSA, AISF, BASO, and AISA. A passing AAP worker saw the protest and took to the stage to voice his support and link this to the passage of the women’s reservation bill.

The community’s key demands are:

Hold widespread consultations with transgender community members from all gender identities and regional identities before bringing this bill before the Lok Sabha.
Implement the key recommendations that will decriminalize the transgender community and provide equal penalties for violence against transgender people as for all people.
Uphold reservation and anti-discrimination policies that hold the key to liberating transgender people from the widespread barriers to employment and education we face.