A year after the RS passed a private member’s Bill, brought in by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva to empower transgenders, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a Bill of its own for their protection. Siva’s was the first private member Bill to be passed in 45 years.
Rajya Sabha had passed ‘The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill’ moved by you. Now the government has come up with a Bill largely modelled on yours. How do you feel?
In a way I am happy that there is something where there was nothing. I am also happy that I was instrumental in bringing it but the government Bill is very diluted. The major difference is that I had asked for two per cent reservation in employment and education for transgenders which the government has not given.
And secondly, my bill had suggested setting up of a national-level commission and state level commissions on the lines of the SC, OBC and women commissions. I think only a statutory commission can oversee all these things as otherwise, if something is not done after it is announced, who will ask for it. My bill also had provisions for medical help, legal aid, separate fast track courts for them. All these things don’t find a place. These are all what the transgender people had told me they needed the most.
Are you suggesting that the transgender community is not really enthused by the government Bill?
It is right. The Supreme Court has already opened doors for them and my bill gave them hope that much would come their way in terms of educational and employment opportunities.
But how can they be given reservation? According to the 2011 Census, India has 6 lakh people who belong to the transgender community.
I am not asking for vertical reservation, only horizontal reservation. I am seeking reservation within that set aside for OBCs, SCs and STs. So if a transgender candidate is OBC, they will get 2 per cent in the existing quota. The government says they can compete but competing with established people is difficult.
Did the government invite you while the Bill was being drafted?
They didn’t consult me. Had they done so, I would have given them my views which would have enriched the Bill. But at the end of the day, it is something than nothing.
Did you speak you representatives of the transgender community after the cabinet cleared the Bill?
I spoke to them. They said they have many of these things in the government bill. They told me that that self-identification aspect is not included in the Bill. Many states, like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have already done a lot for them.
So, will you move amendments when the Bill comes up in Rajya Sabha?
Of course, I will. Tomorrow, my Bill is to be discussed in the Lok Sabha. Whether they will discuss or persuade the member to withdraw I don’t know. Let’s see if the minister gives any more assurances on the floor of the House.
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