In a rare action, a private member’s Bill protecting and providing rights for transgenders was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Friday. The Bill also guarantees reservation in education and jobs, financial aid and social inclusion. This is the first time in 45 years that a private members’ Bill has been passed by the House.
The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, paves the way for a law on the matter in the near future. The government assured the House that it would bring an updated Bill in the Lok Sabha. Sources later told The Hindu that while the government “accepts the spirit and sentiment of the Bill, it has infirmities that need to be removed.”
A Union minister said the government would bring a fresh Bill “after removing the impractical clauses.”
Bill promises welfare board, job quotas
In its current form, the private member’s Bill protecting and providing rights for transgenders, that was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Friday has aspects that concern at least nine different ministries, a Union Minister said. “The synergy has to be worked out.”
The government had initially asked DMK member Tiruchi Siva to withdraw his Bill but he refused to relent. “The government tried to explain that there are some anomalies in the Bill that need further work, but the Opposition that has a majority in the House [Rajya Sabha] did not accept the government’s assurance of bringing in some more provisions in the Bill. There is a need for more inter-ministerial consultation,” said an official of the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. “The issue is also in the Supreme Court, so we cannot say much,” he added.
Mr Siva’s Bill has 58 clauses in 10 chapters dealing with different aspects ranging from social inclusion, rights and entitlements, financial and legal aid, education, skill development to prevention of abuse, violence and exploitation.
“There is a need for a national commission for transgender persons with statutory powers on the lines of other such national commissions. While the Tamil Nadu and West Bengal governments formed welfare boards for the purpose, we need a national response,” Mr Siva told The Hindu.
“Transgenders face total discrimination, even by their own families. I was very emotional when the House passed the Bill. Members of the transgender community were watching from the (visitors’) gallery,” Mr Siva said.
New Delhi-based activist and community member Simran Shaikh, who watched from the gallery as the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill by voice vote, said: “This Bill’s passage is a remarkable thing. It is part of a long drawn struggle including the Supreme Court’s judgment last year.”
The Bill provides for creation of welfare boards at the Centre and State level for the community, Transgender Rights Courts, two per cent reservation in government jobs and prohibits discrimination in employment. It also makes provisions for pensions and unemployment allowances for members of the community.