The UN has expressed hope that the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict recognising transgenders as a third gender will pave the way for the apex court to review its decision of upholding criminalisation of consensual same-sex relationships.
The historic ruling by India’s Supreme Court to legally uphold rights of transgender people “also raises hopes that the court will now review its earlier decision upholding a 160-year-old provision of the penal code criminalising consensual, same sex relationships,” the office of the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General has repeatedly spoken out against laws that criminalise homosexuality and other measures that discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” it said.
The Supreme Court had in December last year upheld the colonial-era law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which punishes those found guilty of “unnatural” offences.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay had voiced her disappointment at the re-criminalisation of consensual same-sex relationships in India, calling it “a significant step backwards” for the country.
The UN on Tuesday welcomed the “historic” ruling by the Supreme Court recognising transgenders as a third gender, saying the decision would pave the way for reforms that will help the community get access to employment and public services.
Responding to queries on the Supreme Court judgement, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Stephane Dujarric said that “we welcome the historic ruling” legally upholding the rights of transgender people across India.
“The decision officially recognises a third gender in law and confirms that discrimination on grounds of gender identity is impermissible under the Indian Constitution,” he said.
In the landmark judgement on Tuesday, the Supreme Court recognised transgenders or eunuchs as the third category of gender and directed the centre and states to grant them all facilities including voters ID, passport and driving licences.
The centre and states were also directed to take steps for bringing the community into the mainstream by providing adequate healthcare, education and employment.