- The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has decided to junk the recommendations of a parliamentary committee report which was the first ever government document to recognise the rights of transgender persons to partnerships and marriage, so that they were no longer criminalised under IPC Section 377, apart from offering other rights.
- The ministry is set to re-introduce its original version of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, in the next session of Parliament.
- The report recommended specific provisions in the ministry’s version of the transgender Bill, to safeguard their rights, protect them against discrimination, and provide quotas in government colleges and jobs.
The ministry’s proposed definition of transgender persons as ‘neither wholly male or female, a combination of female or male, neither female nor male” was criticised by the panel as “primitive and based on the underlying assumption of biological determinism” and hence, it said, it should simply be “one whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth”.
- The parliamentary panel report had faulted the government’s Bill for its failure to address several crucial issues.
- The report noted that “Transgender persons remain at risk of criminalisation under Section 377”.
- It asked that the Bill must recognise their civil rights such as marriage, divorce, adoption, whether under personal or secular laws.
- It had also recommended to accord legal recognition and protection from Section 377 to, if not all sexual minorities, at least transgender persons whose welfare comes under the Social Justice Ministry.
- The panel had also asked for reservations, strong provisions against discrimination, penalties on government officials who subject transgender persons to any kind of violence, skill training to wean them off begging, and separate public toilets for them.
- Going beyond rights and welfare, the panel report also addressed the issue of sexual identity.
- It asked for provisions that provide “penal action against abortions of intersex foetuses and forced surgical assignment of sex of intersex infants.”
- Most importantly, it redefined several terms in the Bill. To recognise alternative family structures such as adoptions of transgender children by the the Hijra or Aravani communities, it defined family in the Bill as “a group of people related by blood, marriage or by adoption of a transgender person”.