Maharashtra government sets up board for welfare of transgenders
MUMBAI: The state government has formed a Transgender Welfare Board to provide formal education, employment opportunities, conduct health programmes and give legal help to the community.
State Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole recently convened a meeting at Mantralaya for the setting- up of the transgender welfare board, officials said.
Badole said transgenders are neglected in society and there were misunderstandings pertaining to the community among people. “Hence, they are are discriminated against. This keeps the community away from development process. The state government has accepted guardianship of the community and we will protect their rights,” Badole said.
“We have set up the transgender welfare board which will take effective measures for the uplift of the community and allow them to live with respect in society,” he said.
He said the welfare board will give members of the community identity cards which will help them obtain education, adding that they would be given scholarships for Class X exams.
Eligible third gender students would be provided hostel accommodation under the Babasaheb Ambedkar Swadhar Scheme.
Under this scheme, Rs 48,000-60,000 would be given as scholarship annually.
The board would implement skill development programmes to help educated transgenders get jobs, he said.
A similar exercise was carried out by the Congress-led Democratic Front government in 2014 but the board could not be formed. The new move comes when Lok Sabha polls are round the corner and assembly elections are scheduled for later this year.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) activists, while welcoming the state government’s announcement, said the decision comes after a four-and-a-half-year wait.
Bindumadhav Khire, president of the Samapathik Trust and an LGBTI activist, said that while the board will definitely help the community, the announcement ahead of the Lok Sabha elections could be a possible poll gimmick.
“The state should have formed this welfare board earlier,” he told this newspaper. “I had given a presentation to the women and child development minister in the previous government and since then, we have been waiting for the announcement.” he said.
Khire, however, added that the board could help the members of the community earn a decent livelihood.