Just days ahead of the start of polling in the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the Congress on Tuesday released its manifesto making a slew of promises, including the withdrawal of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018. The Congress manifesto said the party recognised “the sexual diversity among people” and assured that they will be accorded “equality and equal protection of the laws”.
“We will immediately withdraw the Transgender Bill, 2018, pending in Parliament,” the grand old party promised in the manifesto.
The Bill, passed in the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha, has been criticised by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the opposition parties for its “regressive” nature that violates the Supreme Court verdict in the National Legal Authority vs Union of India (NALSA, 2014) case.
The Congress said that it will introduce a Bill that will be consistent with the judgment in the NALSA case.
“The new Bill will be drafted in consultation with the LGBTQIA+ community,” the manifesto reads.
The grand old party promised the community that it will make gender sensitivity training mandatory in “all government departments and organisations including the Armed Forces and the Police Forces”.
The Congress also promised “effective implementation of the judgment in the Navtej Singh Johar case” which led to the decriminalisation of all consensual sex among adults in private, including homosexual sex.
In its verdict in the NALSA case, the apex court upheld the fundamental rights of transgender people and affirmed self-determination of gender identity.
The Bill has also been criticised for failing to provide for reservation for the members of the community. A major protest against the Bill were held in December last year in New Delhi, which was attended by Congress MP Rajeev Gowda and was also addressed by TMC MP Derek O’Brien.