27 Nov 2019
On Constitution Day, 26 November 2019, the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha despite crucial objections raised by Opposition Members of Parliament.
This bill has not been made in consultation with India’s transgender community, the very people it is supposed to protect and empower. In fact, the Bill violates the Supreme Court’s NALSA judgment spotlighting the fundamental right to self-determination of gender identity.
Trans rights activists and community leaders have made several appeals and recommendations with their objections to this Bill, but they have been entirely ignored. Now, the decision is in your hands, Mr. President. You have the power to send this bill that does more harm than good back to the drawing board.
Transgender members of our society are equally protected by the Indian Constitution. They have a right to be involved in making laws that affect their lives, bodies and identities.
The Trans Rights Bill 2019 should be rejected entirely, and a new bill should be made in consultation with the trans community.
What next for transgender people, as India clears bill that activists call “murder of gender justice”? - Quartz
Rajya Sabha Passes Controversial Transgender Rights Bill - TheWire
Explainer: Despite criticism, the Transgender Persons Bill was passed. What’s next? - Scroll.in
Transgender Rights Bill: A Stunted Understanding of Gender and Equality - TheWire
21 November 2019:
The Trans Bill is back for discussion in the Rajya Sabha, but this time it might get passed without the important amendments suggested by trans rights groups.
The primary amendments that transgender rights activists want are as follows:
- The Bill must uphold the right to self-determination of gender without making expensive surgery a requirement for changing one's ID to male/female, since this violates the NALSA judgment of the Supreme Court.
- The Bill must ensure equal punishment for rape and sexual offences upon trans persons as upon women, not a maximum sentence of 2 years which is bailable. Women's groups have supported this demand, see attached letter.
- The Bill must ensure reservation and affirmative action, as well as a proper anti-discrimination and anti-atrocities section with penalties, so that trans persons can get access to education and jobs.
Last December, we were able to bring the Rajya Sabha to a deadlock with repeated emails and tweets to progressive Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament. We know our signatures and tweets carry power.
Click on the tweets below:
Tweet 1: TG Bill asks 4 gender certification by Dist. Magist in violation of SC NALSA verdict @supriyasule @Amar4Odisha @sasmitpatra @appasoni @rajeevgowda @derekobrienmp @tsubbaramireddy @SanjayAzadSln @jairam_ramesh @sushmitadevinc @ahmedpatel http://bit.ly/StopTGBill2019 #StopTransBill2019
Tweet 2: TG Bill must ensure affirmative action for employment n education for trans ppl @supriyasule @Amar4Odisha @sasmitpatra @appasoni @rajeevgowda @derekobrienmp @tsubbaramireddy @SanjayAzadSln @jairam_ramesh @ahmedpatel http://bit.ly/StopTGBill2019 #StopTransBill2019
Tweet 3: TGBill should have equal punishment for rape n sexual offences upon trans persons as upon women @supriyasule @Amar4Odisha @sasmitpatra @appasoni @rajeevgowda @mahuamoitra @tsubbaramireddy @SanjayAzadSln @jairam_ramesh @ahmedpatel http://bit.ly/StopTGBill2019 #StopTransBill2019
Tweet 4: Trans Bill must uphold right to self-determination of gender for trans persons w/o making surgery a requirement 4 changing one’s id to male/female @supriyasule @Amar4Odisha @sasmitpatra @appasoni @rajeevgowda @mahuamoitra @derekobrienmp @SanjayAzadSln http://bit.ly/StopTGBill2019 #StopTransBill2019
Today, transgender citizens of our country are entering the work force, running for Parliament, joining the entertainment industry, and becoming role models for the youth. We cannot afford to stay silent as this Bill stands a chance to become a law that will further disenfranchise our transgender friends.
Parliament proceedings: Rajya Sabha sees demand for rethink of trans rights Bill - The Hindu
‘Unscientific and regressive’ - why transgender bill tabled in Rajya Sabha is contentious - ThePrint
24 July 2019:
On 19 July the Lok Sabha tabled the problematic Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 with almost no changes to the original content that continues to oppress rather than empower trans people.
The Trans Bill in its current format does not respect the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking 2014 NALSA judgment which recognised the right of trans people to self-identify. The NALSA judgement also directed Central and State governments to legally recognise trans persons, and take social welfare measures and provide medical services to tackle discrimination against transgender people. These are fundamental elements of the Supreme Court judgement that have been eliminated altogether from the current Bill.
In December 2018, over 12,000 citizens directly emailed Rajya Sabha parliamentarians to send the Bill to a select committee so that concerns from trans folk could be incorporated. More importantly, for the first time, trans, intersex and gender non-binary people from across the length and breadth of the country came out on the streets to protest the Bill. Trans groups lobbied for months to unify opposition to the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Ultimately, we were successful in stalling the Bill. But we need to rally support once again to block the Trans Bill from hurriedly becoming law. At the very least, the 2014 NALSA judgment needs to be respected. In addition, the Bill must be sent to a Select Committee to incorporate recommendations from trans groups.
Remember that our collective pressure created a deadlock in the Rajya Sabha before, so let’s not underestimate the power of our action.
Here are a few oppressive elements of the Trans Bill, 2019:
- It mandates a surgery certificate for granting ‘trans’ identity to an individual
- No mention of affirmative action which is crucial in creating access to education and employment opportunities
- Restrictive definition of ‘family’ that excludes hijra families, and forces trans persons to be sent to rehabilitation centres
- Lesser punishment for crimes against trans persons
- Restriction of legal rights of trans persons
The list is endless -- the Trans Rights Bill, 2019 is a hogwash bill that does more harm than good. Instead of securing the dignity, respect and equal rights of trans, intersex and gender non-binary people, the Bill continues to view them as second-class citizens.
The Parliament is in session as we speak. This is our opportunity to let our Parliamentarians know that trans people deserve equal and full rights as any other citizen of India.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Right) Bill, 2019 - Text
SPWG Statement on Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 - Sampoorna
Controversial Bill re-enters India’s lower house and trans groups aren’t happy - Gaystar News
‘Trans Bill Fails to Protect Trans People’ : Human Rights Orgs - The Quint
Why The Indian LGBTQ Community Rejects The ‘Progressive’ Trans Bill - Youth Ki Awaaz
4 January 2019:
Nearly 12,000 Indians have sent emails to Rajya Sabha MPs requesting them to not allow the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 and the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 to be passed in their current forms.
The good news is that the Rajya Sabha is in a deadlock over these two bills! MPs Ashok Gehlot and Maneka Gandhi have the power to file a motion to send the Trans Rights Bill and the Trafficking Bill respectively to Select Committees for reconsideration. We know they are listening to our voices -- let’s up the antenna and make sure they do the right thing!
One of the biggest problems with the Trans Rights Bill is that it gives absolute authority to a District Screening Committee to certify whether someone identifies as a transgender person or not. It mandates Sex Reassignment Surgery for someone to change their gender to male or female. However, a Supreme Court (SC) judgement grants self identification -- the Trans Bill meanwhile entirely overrides this judgment.
The right to bodily integrity, autonomy and dignity is guaranteed to all citizens of India by our Constitution under the Right To Life. Self-identification is a deeply complex and personal experience that cannot and, more importantly, should not be decided by bureaucrats.
The bill criminalises begging with severe punishment, but makes no mention of providing alternative employment opportunities, or reservations. It’s because of rigid mindsets and discrimination at the workplace that transgender persons resort to begging to sustain themselves. By signing this petition we are letting MPs Gehlot and Gandhi know that we will support their decision to send the two bills for redrafting.
The Trafficking bill passed in July, 2018 compounds the criminalisation of the transgender community, by providing a staggering 10 years of punishment for organised begging, which it calls a form of aggravated trafficking that goes beyond punishments for trafficking for forms of forced labour.
It also does not distinguish between voluntary sex work and delineate it apart from trafficking. Above all, it violates the agency of people in sex work or begging to decide if they are trafficked or choosing these forms of work.
Trans rights activists have been organising demonstrations and lobby activities for months -- we are so close to a victory. We need to assure MPs Ashok Gehlot and Maneka Gandhi that sending these two bills for redrafting is the only way forward.
‘We don’t want pity, only equality’ - Deccan Chronicle
Protest March against Transgender Bill - Times of India
Muddled Morality: An Attempt at Criminalising Transgender Community - Newsclick