Member of Parliament Ashok Gehlot for the Trans Rights Bill
Member of Parliament Maneka Gandhi for the Trafficking Bill
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