Skip to main content

Transgender Bill testimony of Govt of India's ‘contempt’ for marginalized community

Counterview Desk
India’s civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)* has said that the controversial transgender Bill, passed in the Rajya Sabha on November 26, which happened to be the 70th anniversary of the Indian Constitution, is a reflection on the way the Government of India looks at the marginalized community with utter contempt.
Condemning the passage of the “regressive" transgender rights Bill despite severe opposition, NAPM in a statement has sought urgent Presidential intervention, stating, President Ram Nath Kovind must return it to the Rajya Sabha for reconsideration by a Select Committee.

Text:

In yet another of its egregious legislative misadventures, the BJP Government with the support of some other parties, passed the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill in the Rajya Sabha despite wide-spread opposition by members of the transgender, intersex and gender non-confirming communities, who had sought to refer the Bill to a Select Committee.
We have all been witness to and allies of the struggles of the transgender community in their consistent resistance against this Bill in the past few years. Nothing could be a greater shame and sham that such a violative piece of law was passed on the 70th anniversary of the Indian Constitution! While it is being claimed that the Bill does have some 'enabling and supportive provisions', it is flawed in many fundamental ways:
One, it takes away the inalienable right to gender self-identification as guaranteed by National Legal Services Authority v Union of India, known as NASLA judgement, 2014, of the Supreme Court and retains the humiliating and transphobic provision that empowers district magistrates to 'certify' a person as transgender at first instance and as male/female only after surgery.
Two, it prescribes only 6 months to 2 years’ punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence on trans persons as against 7 years’ punishment in the case of sexual violence on cisgender women, thereby legislating a secondary class of citizenship for trans persons.
Three, the Bill requires young transgender people, to reside with their birth family, completely overlooking the fact that domestic violence of trans persons is the norm. The only 'alternative' in the Bill is court-directed 'rehabilitation' in shelter homes, thereby infantilizing trans persons who are independent and equal citizens.
Four, the Bill is visibly devoid of effective provisions for reservations and affirmative action in education, employment and health care, without which trans, intersex and gender nonconforming people can never have access to fair opportunities and dignified lives.
Five, the 'anti-discrimination' provisions are quite weak with no mention of the unique forms of discriminations faced and no commensurate penalties, making the Bill high on rhetoric and low on real commitment towards trans justice.
And six, there is only a mechanism for a National Transgender Council, without any body at the state level. The Council, an executive body with no autonomy and no judicial/quasi powers, will not be able to effectively address the many concerns of the community and remain dependent on the government for carrying out its functions.
In all, the Bill stands as a testimony of the contempt the current government has for the transgender community and its obvious lack of commitment to ensure justice to those who are perpetually marginalized. If the Government really cared for the rights of the trans-community, they should have implemented the directives of the Supreme Court in NALSA vs Union of India, which they never did, despite being in power since 2014.
What was also very disturbing was the manner in which the Bill has been rushed through, violating the directives of the Apex Court in the NALSA Judgement, ignoring the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and disregarding the voices and views of the transgender, intersex and gender non-confirming people across the country. Callous inferences jibes and inadequate attendance point to how transgender people are ill-treated to this day, even by the 'law-makers'.
Bill prescribes 6 months to 2 years’ punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence on trans persons as against 7 years’ punishment in case of cisgender women
That the Chairperson of the Upper House, did not find 'merit' in referring such a crucial Bill to a Select Committee and instead allowed it to be 'passed' in haste, despite efforts by MPs of some opposition parties like DMK, INC, AITC, BJP, CPM, SP, AIADMK, AAP, RJD, CPI, NCP to introduce amendments, raise objections and send the Bill to the Select Committee, is a telling expose of our parliamentary procedures.
The President of India has so far been signing on a series of regressive bills (RTI, UAPA etc) which defy the constitutional spirit. We hope against hope that the President would refrain from doing so at least in the case of the most marginalized transgender community.
We call upon the President to send back the Bill to Rajya Sabha for fair reconsideration by a Select Committee, inviting and incorporating the suggestions of transgender, intersex and gender non-confirming people from across the country.
National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) stands in solidarity with the valiant transgender community, betrayed and violated yet again, this time in the garb of 'protection' of their rights. We call upon all democratic forces to see this also as an issue of violation of basic citizenship rights, civil & constitutional freedoms and institutional compromise.
We demand that the NALSA judgement, which has the force of law to this day, be implemented in full letter and spirit. A comprehensive legislation that addresses all forms of discrimination and guarantees all civil rights to transgender, intersex and gender non-confirming communities alone would undo the historic injustice inflicted by the state and society.
---
*Click here for list of signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.