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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shashi Tharoor explains why Transgender Persons Bill is ‘flawed’

Shashi Tharoor tweeted: "Many offences under the IPC such as rape, stalking, sexual harassment etc are applicable only if the victim is female. Therefore, I moved an amendment to include transgender persons under the ambit of the IPC."

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 18, 2018 10:11:22 am
Shashi Tharoor, police oppose Swamy's plea in Sunanda Pushkar death case; court reserves order Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, in a series of tweets, explained how the bill is regressive and fraught with flaws adding that he moved several amendments to improve it, which were ignored. (File)

Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, has described the Transgender bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha by voice vote Monday, as “flawed”. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, was passed with 27 amendments introduced by the government. The amendments suggested by Opposition members were rejected.

Tharoor, in a series of tweets, elaborated on why he finds the bill “regressive” and “fraught with flaws”, adding that he moved several amendments to improve it, which were ignored. “The Transgender Bill passed by the Lok Sabha is regressive & fraught with flaws. I moved several amendments to improve the Bill; unfortunately, I did not get an opportunity to explain the reasons behind them. Highlighting a few through this thread…” he tweeted.

Defining how the bill wrongly assumes that all persons with intersex variation are transgenders, the Congress leader said, “Definition: A person with intersex variation may be satisfied with the gender assigned at time of birth, or can choose to be a transgender, but the Bill wrongly assumes that all persons with intersex variation are transgender persons. I moved an amendment to correct this.”

“I moved an amendment to make school & college curricula inclusive in nature. Our students need to learn about the LGBTQ community & their rights, and teachers must be trained to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming children are not discriminated against,” he added.

Also Read: Lok Sabha passes Transgender Persons Bill with 27 changes

“I also moved an amendment to mandate the Govt to encourage transgender children to access all levels of education through scholarships and to provide incentives to the private sector to employ transgender persons, to combat their marginalization,” he added to the tweet.

Tharoor, who thoroughly opposed the Transgender bill, also said he moved amendments to include transgenders under the Indian Penal Code sections covering rape and sexual harassment cases. “Many offences under the IPC such as rape, stalking, sexual harassment etc are applicable only if the victim is female. Therefore, I moved an amendment to include transgender persons under the ambit of the IPC.”

“Self-identification as transgender should be the only basis. My amendment expressly forbids subjecting transgender persons to a physical examination & ensures all transgender persons are protected against discrimination, even those who may not have a certificate of identity,” he said.

Objecting to the word ‘rehabilitation’ in the bill, Tharoor tweeted: “The word ‘rehabilitation’ employed by the Bill, indicates lack of agency on part of transgender persons and is patronizing. They need assistance with housing, not ‘rehabilitation.’ My amendment sought to correct this disempowering language.”

Asserting that the bill could have been “fixed easily”, the Congress leader said: “These inclusive & non-political proposals to empower the transgender community were summarily shouted down by the BJP. Whether it is bigotry or hubris, their attitude undermines the value of Parliamentary discussion. A flawed bill has been passed; it cld easily have been fixed.”

The bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2016, following which it was sent to a 31-member parliamentary standing committee. The amendments passed on Monday include a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female or wholly male”, which was criticised as being insensitive.

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