Updated: November 27, 2019 2:03:05 am
The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 by voice vote after the Opposition lost the vote to refer the legislation to a Parliamentary select committee.
The Bill, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on August 5, seeks to provide a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.
As the Opposition was not satisfied with the provisions of the Bill, it had urged the government to send it to the select committee for further examination. At the insistence of DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, the motion to refer the legislation to a select committee was put to vote. But the Opposition was defeated as 74 members voted against the motion while only 55 voted in favour.
Piloted by Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, who is also Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, the Bill will now go to the President for approval.
The legislation is facing opposition from the transgender community as it still upholds the process of submitting an application to the District Magistrate for legal recognition of one’s transgender identity in the form of a certificate.
A person may also obtain a revised certificate if he/she undergoes surgery to change the gender, as per the Bill.
While most members expressed satisfaction that a legislation recognising the rights of transgenders had finally made it to Parliament, some pointed out the “technical shortcomings” of the Bill.
Gehlot said that empowering a medical officer to grant certificate of identity will invite the humiliating complexities of medical examination of the applicants. Seeking to assuage the concerns, the minister said the government will make efforts to take into account the issues raised by the transgender community and MPs.
The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the one assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities.
The legislation prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to eight matters, including education, employment, healthcare; access to, or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public; right to movement; right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property; opportunity to hold public or private office, and access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
It criminalises denial of use of public places to transgenders, removal of transgenders from households and villages, etc.
The legislation also proposes the establishment of a National Council for Transgender Persons consisting of various members from Union ministries, NHRC, Niti Aayog and state governments to monitor the impact of policies, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons and to also redress their grievances.
During the debate, many members, including minister Gehlot, praised DMK’s Siva for highlighting issues concerning the transgender community through a private member’s Bill, which prompted the government to bring out the law.
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