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Human Rights Watch praises India for setting example in "recognizing" third gender, cites Dutch court reference

Bhumika Shrestha, a Nepalese transgender woman,
listed male in citizenship certificate, 2011
By Our Representative
One of the world’s top rights bodies, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has praised India, along with Nepal, for setting an example for “recognizing” the third gender. HRW’s South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly, referring to a Netherlands court citing cases in India and Nepal, has said, “South Asia’s third gender court judgments” have set an example in in this regard.
According to Ganguly, “A Netherlands district court cited Supreme Court judgments from India and Nepal when it ruled the Dutch legislature should provide a way for citizens to legally identify as neither male nor female if they prefer.”
Ganguly says, “The Supreme Court of Nepal ruled in 2007 in Pant v Nepal that the government must create a legal category for people who identify as neither male nor female. Crucially, the judgment dictated that the ability to get documents bearing a third gender should be based on “self-feeling.”
She adds, “Nepal’s LGBT activists were particularly pioneering, given that no other country before Nepal had developed an identity-based legal recognition procedure for transgender people at the time.”
As for India, Ganguly says, “In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in NALSA v. India that transgender people should be legally recognized according to their gender identity – including if that identity was a third category other than male and female.”
“Both the India and Nepal cases – as well as the new Dutch judgment – cite the Yogyakarta Principles, a 2006 codification of binding international human rights standards related to sexual orientation and gender identity”, Ganguly says.
Its Principle 3 says, “Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity, and freedom.”
Believes the senior human rights activist, “The Dutch judgment is the latest affirmation that South Asia’s principled and tenacious activists, lawyers, and judges continue to influence the world. Governments in the region now have an opportunity to set a further example by ensuring these rulings are fully enforced and third gender legal recognition is available to everyone who seeks it.
At the same time, Ganguly regrets, “Other countries in the region – namely Bangladesh and Pakistan – now legally recognize more than two genders in some way. But while legal proclamations there have been promising, implementation has been piecemeal.”

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