Almost 300 transgenders from various districts in Karnataka, gathered at Mysore Bank Circle on Thursday to protest against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016.
Their main demand was that the central government step back from the move to introduce the bill in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament. Narasimha Murthy, a lawyer and human rights activist addressed the gathering.
Sowmya Raj, an office-bearer of Karnataka Transgender Samiti told Deccan Herald that the current Bill does not understand the needs of the community members. “The Bill has multiple issues. The government did not consider our recommendations,” she said.
The Bill demands the “transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for issuing a certificate of identity as a transgender person.” It is contradictory to the Supreme Court verdict in The National Legal Services Authority vs the Union of India in February 2014 which allowed the self- identification of gender identity. “Gender identity as already indicated forms the core of one’s personal self, based on self- identification, not on surgical or medical procedures,” read the verdict.
The Bill criminalises begging and aims to end discrimination against them in all public spaces including schools and colleges. “They don’t give any alternatives. How can we survive then,” asks Shahina, a transwoman from Uttarahalli.
“The Draft bill had provisions of reservation while the current one keeps mum about it,” said Raj. The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment chaired by BJP MP Ramesh Bais had recommended implementing reservation in education and job sectors. The 2015 Draft Bill also suggested OBC reservation for all trans people except those born into SC/ST communities.
“People are not willing to give us job nor treat us normally,” said Kanmani, a graduate student. “Even if I wish to do a petty-shop business, I cannot arrange the money,” said Sanjana, who is now living with her friends as she cannot afford to get a rented house in the city.
“The Bill speaks about the right to live in our family. But how are they going to address the identity issues of a child who has no voice in the family,” asks Raj. “They don’t know anything about us.”
The protest was coordinated by KTS aligning with 10 other organisations like Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Samara, Samara Society-Yeshwantpur, Payana, Sarathya, Ondede, Swatantra, Jeeva, Karnataka Mangalamuki Sangha and Karnataka Transgender Kalavidara Abhivrudhi Sangha.