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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

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.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.