Staff Reporter

They seek inclusion in Backward Classes

20 persons deposed before commission revealing the stigma they face

Bangalore: It was a public hearing of sorts on Wednesday. Members of the sexuality minorities' community, which includes hijras, kothis, jogappas, transgenders and Mangala Mukhis from all over the State, gathered at the premises of the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission in the city to influence the commission to include them in the Backward Classes (BC) category.

“Our main demand is right to life and dignity. We are shunned by all. Even the doctors in Government hospitals refuse to touch and examine us. Please give us an opportunity to live with dignity by including us in the BC category,” said Revathi, a hijra.

Nearly 20 persons deposed before the commission revealing their pathetic living conditions and the stigma they faced both from their own families and society.

The hearing follows a petition filed by some organisations of transgenders, including Karnataka State Sexual Minorities Forum (KSMF) and those funded by Karnataka Health Promotion Trust and Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society before the commission seeking inclusion of sexuality minorities in BC category, said commission Chairman C.S. Dwarkanath.

“Although I was born a girl, I always wanted to be a boy and started developing that urge even when I was eight years old. Most of us are discriminated at home and thrown out on to the streets by our own families and rejected by society,” said Kiran, a transgender.

He pointed out how difficult it is for people of his community to get access to public transport or public facilities. “Ordinary men and women prevent us from using public facilities,” he said.

Elaborating on this point, Christy Raj, another transgender, said: “We face enormous difficulties in getting educated. We face stigma and abuse in schools, we are physically beaten up and are even sexually harassed by teachers.”

Difficulties

Nagalakshmi of Gadag testified how she was sexually abused in school. “Some of us survived all this and finished class 10, degree and some even postgraduation. But it is still impossible to get jobs. Skills and knowledge are not important for the interviewers, who look at our expressions and reject us,'' said Sameer from Bijapur. “Unable to face the daily stigma, we are forced to quit our jobs and resort to begging or sex work,” said Akkai Padmashali. Advocate B.K. Venkatesh summed up the deliberations quoting sections in the Constitution. He argued that the sexuality minorities were denied rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

“The Government does not even acknowledge their presence. Access to justice is their major problem. Please accept them and give them their rights,” he pleaded.

Gynaecologist Padmini Prasad, who spoke on the medical aspects of transgenders, said: “Homosexuality and anything in sex is not considered as abnormal anymore. It is not a mental disorder,” she said. Venkatswamy of Samata Sainik Dal and human rights activist Elavarthi Manohar also spoke.

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