Transgenders seek time

Members of the transgender samithi at a press conference in Hyderabad on Saturday.–Photo: By Arrangement  

The transgender community representatives from Telangana and other Southern States raised unanimous demand for extension of deadline for comments on the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015 drafted by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The present deadline of January 4 is “incredibly short and unfeasible”, said a statement from the South India Transgender Samithi, issued after a consultation held at Bangalore on December 30.

The deadline needs to be extended at least by a month, and community members should be consulted before presenting the bill to Lok Sabha, lest the entire exercise would be rendered a failure, the Samithi cautioned.

“Most of the transgender persons come from deprived classes, hence have no access to the ministry’s website where the draft bill was uploaded on December 26. It being holiday season, the period is grossly insufficient to receive comments from the community,” said Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli representing Telangana Hijra Transgender Samiti at a press conference here on Saturday. Also mentioned were flaws in the bill’s provisions pertaining to identity, penal provisions, definition of violence and employment, among others, which could dilute the legislation.

Locating the bill in the chronological context of the initial report by the ministry, Supreme Court’s NALSA judgement, and the private bill passed unanimously by Rajya Sabha, Ms.Vyjayanti said the present bill is but a watered down version of all the three.

Self identification, and not the certification through bureaucratic procedures as stipulated in the bill, should be the basis for determining the transgender identity, the statement from the Samithi demanded.

As per the draft bill, the certification is to be done by a State-level authority on recommendation by a district level screening committee headed by district collector and comprising district social welfare officer, psychologist, psychiatrist, and social worker among others. “We have already been victims of transphobia of psychologists, psychiatrists, magistrates and social workers. A self-attested affidavit by the transgender person should be treated as identity proof,” demanded Rachana, representing Andhra Pradesh.

For availing benefits from the state, there may be a certification process, but the panel should reflect the diversity of transgender people by allowing representation from all sections including transwomen, transmen, hijra, shivashakti, jogappa, aravani, and jogta.

The bill does not provide for penalties, nor for clear line of duties and responsibilities for government and non-governmental agencies. Definition of ‘Violence’ too is seriously flawed, being limited to ‘intentional use of physical force or power’ which includes self-harm.

“Suicide rate is very high among the transgender persons, which the bill identifies as offence. Instead of providing relief, it will make lives more miserable for us,” Ms.Vyjayanti said.

Another serious objection was about the onus being laid on the victim for establishing the criminal intention, which went against the spirit of NALSA judgement.

While the bill passed by Rajya Sabha provided for National and State Commissions for Transgender persons, the same is absent in the current bill. Instead of the two percent quota mentioned in the former, the present bill merely provides for inclusion of the community in the OBC category. Also absent were intersex identity, and marriage, inheritance, and adoption provisions.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 12:20:26 AM |

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