The transgender rights activists said that the ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016’, which was passed by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha on Monday, criminalizes the community and is discriminatory. In addition, they say the Bill violates the Supreme Court’s landmark National Legal Services Authority judgment of 2014 recognizing the right of transgender persons to decide their self-identified gender. The activists added that the Bill was regressive when compared to a private member’s Bill that had been introduced by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Tiruchi Siva and passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2015.
The Bill, which is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2016. It was then criticized by transgender and intersex groups for many reasons, including forgetting the definition of transgender wrong. That Bill defined transgender people as “neither wholly female nor wholly male”. It was sent to a parliamentary standing committee, which tabled its report in Parliament in July 2017, only to see it rejected by the government.
The Bill passed on Monday had 27 amendments made to it by the government. In the amendments, the definition of transgender was changed to “a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes a trans man or trans woman, a person with intersex variations, gender queer and person having such socio-cultural identities as kinnar, hijra, aravani and jogta.
The Bill states that a transgender person has to get a certificate of identity from the district magistrate. This certificate will be issued on the basis of recommendations made by a District Screening Committee, which will consist of a chief medical officer, a member of the transgender community, a district social welfare officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist and an officer nominated by the government, says the Bill.
Activists said that the Bill passed on Monday prescribes imprisonment of six months to two years against those who commit crimes against transgender persons. However, activists said that this term was lower than that prescribed for cases related to crimes committed against women and other margmarginalizedmunities.