Months after the Rajya Sabha, in a rare move, voted in favour of a private member’s bill guaranteeing rights to transgenders, the Lok Sabha is all set to take up a similar private member’s bill, moved by Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.
The Transgender Persons (Welfare) Bill 2015 is listed for consideration Friday. It calls for a Transgender Persons Welfare Fund administered by a board with representation from state governments that will provide social security to transgender persons. It proposes that every transgender person will be entitled to freely express his/her gender identity and be considered a third gender, and that they will have access to education and vocational training; the rights to personal liberty, dignity, freedom of expression; rights against violence, right to health facilities and also the right to marry.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment defines transgenders thus: “Transgender people are individuals of any age or sex whose appearance, personal characteristics, or behaviours differ from stereotypes about how men and women are ‘supposed’ to be. Transgender people have existed in every culture, race, and class since the story of human life has been recorded. Only the term ‘transgender’ and the medical technology available to transsexual people are new. In its broadest sense, transgender encompasses anyone whose identity or behaviour falls outside of stereotypical gender norms.”
During the budget session, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva had moved a private member’s bill. The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2014, that sought to protect and provide rights to transgenders was voted for and passed by the Rajya Sabha paving the way for the government to bring a bill for transgender rights.
Private members’ bills are usually only tabled and discussed but rarely put to vote. Siva’s bill is one among a handful over the years that have been voted for by any House after the MP refused to withdraw his bill, as has been the tradition of such privately brought legislation.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment recognised transgenders as the third gender and asked the Centre to treat the community as a socially and economically backward one and run a public awareness programme to counter the social stigma against them.
Talking about her Bill, Ghosh Dastidar told The Indian Express, “It is high time that we recognised the needs of these special kinds of people. Since Parliament is the place where we can legislate for providing for all their requirements and guaranteeing them their rights, I brought this bill. West Bengal is among the first states in the country that, as far as my knowledge goes, recognised their needs and set up a transgender board to ensure those rights.”