Transgender bill violates our rights, says community
CHENNAI: Ever since The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on November 26, it has drawn protests from members of the community as they feel it violates their rights. In Chennai, on Tuesday, members of the transgender community, and allies as well as members of the Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition – a network of LGBTIQA+ groups, collectives and individuals – gathered to express their dismay over the passage of the Bill and requested that it should not be given presidential assent.
People from the community felt that the bill is in gross violation of the Supreme Court’s NALSA verdict of 2014. “According to it, for a certificate of identity, a transgender person has to apply to a district magistrate, who has the discretionary powers to deny the application,” said G Sankari, founder of Nirangal, an NGO working for the rights of LGBT people and sex workers, at the press meet.
A revised certificate may be obtained only if the person undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female. “This also violates the NALSA judgment. Why should someone else certify me when only I know who I really am inside?” said Sankari, adding that the bill also does not contain mention any reservations in the field of education and employment for transgender people.
Members of the community are also upset that the punishment for physical or sexual violence against transgenders is only up to two years. “It is seven years for similar offences against women but they do not think our lives are valuable. We are valuable only when it comes to getting our votes,” said Srijith Sundaram, Kattiyakkari, an inclusive theatre group.
While the bill says that transgenders have a right to reside and be included in their households, it also says that the primary caregiver is the immediate family, and if they are not able to care for the transgender person, the individual should be placed in a rehabilitation centre, something which has drawn the ire of the community.
“Very often, transgenders face violence from their own family members, there have even been instance of honour killing,” says Srijith, adding that the bill doesn’t take into consideration alternative family structures within which transgender persons have the constitutional right to stay, like the traditional jamaat system. “These are safe places. Can the government assure that transgenders will be safe in the homes? Many transgenders feel that instead of passing a bill that makes life so difficult for them, it’s better if the government does mercy killing.
Courtesy : TNN