The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament on Tuesday, with the Rajya Sabha passing it after a motion to refer it to a select committee was defeated.
Passed by the Lok Sabha on August 8 and introduced in the Rajya Sabha by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot on November 20, the legislation was meant to end discrimination against transgender persons, the Minister said.
Opposition MPs, however, raised concerns about certain provisions including the requirement of getting a transgender certificate from a district Magistrate, terming them regressive. DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, whose private member’s Bill for protecting transrights was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2015, moved a motion to refer the Bill to a select committee. The motion was defeated with 74 MPs voting against it and 55 in favour of it, and the Bill was passed by voice vote.
Starting Tuesday’s discussion, Mr. Siva said the Bill did not address the needs for protection of the transcommunity, which, he said, had called the Bill “regressive and half-hearted”. He said while his own Bill, which had been passed unanimously in the Rajya Sabha but defeated in the Lok Sabha, had called for a statutory commission on the lines of the National Commission for Women for the community, while the government’s Bill sets up a national council to be headed by the Social Justice Minister. His Bill had also made provisions for a 2% reservation for transpersons in jobs and education, but the government had not made any such provision.
Mr. Gehlot, however, said the concerns raised by the MPs would be looked into while drafting the rules under the Act. He said the Bill had already been sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee and passed by the Lok Sabha twice before being introduced in the Upper House.
On the issue of identification, Mr. Gehlot said the Bill had made it clear that a transperson would have the right to self-identify. He said a previous version had included a medical board to decide on the certificate, but now only a certification by the DM would do. He said a transperson would be able to avail welfare benefits from the Centre and the State governments.
The Bill defines a transperson as someone whose gender does not match the one assigned at birth and prohibits discrimination against them in employment, education, housing, healthcare and other services. It also allows for certification after such a person undergoes surgery to change gender. The application and a certificate from a medical superintendent or chief medical officer of the medical institution where the surgery took place should be given to the DM for a revised certificate.