Skip to main content

Transgender bill seeks to "police, criminalize" a highly vulnerable community: PUDR

Counterview Desk
India’s well-known civil rights organization, People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), characterizing the transgender bill – currently pending before Parliament – “draconian”, has said that it “violates” transpersons’ freedom of association in intimate and personal relations by refusing to “recognize ‘families of choice’ among hijras as self-determined arrangements of care.”
The bill, says a PUDR statement, “upholds Brahmanical patriarchal family forms, which inflicts daily punishment and humiliation on transpersons”. It adds, under the guise of combating trafficking in persons, it “increases policing in trans-communities and of trans-bodies, who are already highly vulnerable, to police harassment and violence.”
Signed by Deepika Tandon and Shahana Bhattacharya, secretaries, PUDR, the statement demands immediate withdrawal of the bill, even as “upholding the right to self-determination of transpersons recognized by the Supreme Court”, decriminalizing begging and sex work, and guaranteeing reservations in employment and education.

Text of the statement:

PUDR stands in support of the trans, queer and LGBTQI+ movement in opposing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill (the Bill) as an assault on the democratic rights of transpersons. The Bill violates the right of transpersons to self-determination and self-identification, recognized by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right under Art. 21 in the 2014 NALSA v. Union of India judgment. Under the guise of combating trafficking in persons, the Bill increases policing in trans communities and of trans bodies, who are already highly vulnerable to police harassment and violence, and disproportionately represented in the prison population of the country.
Instead of upholding the right to self-determine ones gender, the Bill provides for ambiguous definitions, invasive procedures and increased criminality, to add to the hurt and humiliation of trans and intersex persons. Carrying forward the stigmatization of non-conforming gender identities as an ‘illness’ or pathology, the Bill requires transpersons to submit to a certification process before a panel of medical officers, psychologists and psychiatrists to determine their gender, and provides for recognition of a person as either man or woman only after mandatory Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS).
In a measure that purports to protect the rights of transpersons as a vulnerable class of people, the Bill penalises anyone who ‘compels or entices a transgender person to indulge in the act of begging’ without any attempt to address the root causes which drive transpersons to begging to earn their livelihood, namely, discrimination, segregation and exclusion from education and employment, thus resulting in indirect criminalisation of begging.
Ironically, the Bill does not criminalize sexual violence including rape, normalized against transpersons instead, these offences are treated as ‘petty offences’, bailable and non-cognizable, with punishment of 2 years, compared to 7 years for the same offences under IPC. Though, the 2013 Criminal Law Amendment provides for gender neutral provision against the sexual harassment (S. 354A IPC) and the same was upheld recently by the Delhi High Court in Anamika v. UOI & Ors (2018) but the rest of the provisions awarding protection (354, 354B, 354C, 354D) remains gender specific and thus, inaccessible to transpersons.
The Bill also empowers the Court to send transpersons into the custody of ‘rehabilitation centres’ on being abandoned by their birth-families, which are primary sites of their torture and harassment. By failing to recognize ‘families of choice’ among hijras as self-determined arrangements of care, the Bill violates their freedom of association in intimate and personal relations, and of those facing common oppression. It upholds Brahmanical patriarchal family forms, which inflicts daily punishment and humiliation on transpersons.
It is important to note that Rajya Sabha passed its first ever Private Member’s Bill in the last 48 years, the progressive draft of The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, which was tabled by Tiruchu Silva. The Private Bill had separate provisions for 2% reservations in education and public employment, establishment of National-State Commissions, Legal Aid and Fast Track Courts, after extensive democratic consultations, but the same has been left pending since 2015 in the Lok Sabha.
The Standing Committee also recommended reservations and recognition of civil rights like marriage, partnership, divorce and adoption. The Central Government tabled its own Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2016 to thwart the progressive provisions of the Private Bill which was passed in 2018 with amendments completely disregarding recommendations by the Standing Committee.
PUDR vehemently opposes the passage of the Transgenders Bill diluting the rights and protection awarded by the NALSA judgment as it furthers injustice and violence against the trans and gender non- conforming persons. PUDR demands:
  1. Withdrawal of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill and The Trafficking Bill. 
  2. Refer both Bills to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. 
  3. Decriminalize begging and sex work. 
  4. Uphold the right to self-determination of transpersons recognized by the Supreme Court, guarantee reservations in employment and education, and provide social security.

Comments

TRENDING

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).