More calls for India to rethink controversial trans bill


More calls for India to rethink controversial trans bill

Trans Indians protest the transgender rights bill (Photo: Twitter)

International rights groups this week added their voices to condemn a controversial transgender rights bill India reintroduced to parliament this week.

India’s cabinet claims the bill will ‘provide for protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare.’

But the trans community have labeled it a ‘travesty of justice’ and a ‘burial of rights.’

The legislation does not allow trans individuals to self identify. It mandates sex reassignment surgery for people who want to change gender.

What’s more, rights groups detailed, it sets out lighter sentences for sexual abuse and domestic abuse. It also leaves in place laws that could be used to unfairly target transgender citizens.

Moreover, the bill enshrines little to no protections to trans people in public spaces or in the workplace.

India recognized trans as a third gender in a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2014.

The ruling guaranteed them the fundamental rights enshrined in India’s constitution.

A bill to tackle this has been in the political pipeline since 2015. But last year, India’s Cabinet formally drafted the trans bill, which lawmakers in the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house, passed in December.

Trans rights in India

Trans people in India remain marginalized and at risk of abuse.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) both spoke out this week against the bill.

They said the current bill does not meet the 2014 Supreme Court ruling.

The bill ‘fails to fully protect the rights of transgender people including to self-identify, a right that has been upheld by the Indian Supreme Court’ said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia Pacific Director.

He said it falls short of both India’s constitution and international human rights norms.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at HRW said the law must include the fundamental right to self-identify.

‘Transgender people in India should be able to live with dignity and nondiscrimination’ Ganguly Said. What’s more, they must ‘have equal access to education, employment, and health services.’

‘It’s critical that parliament fully bring transgender people into the conversation.’


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