With most of the attention on abrogation of Article 370, the Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill which provides a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 which was introduced on July 19 was passed by a voice vote amid noisy protests by some Opposition parties over Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury not being allowed to speak on his adjournment notice.
Minister of State for Social Justice Rattan Lal Kataria replying on the bill said, it makes provision for establishing a national authority for safeguarding rights of transgenders. The minister said according to the 2011 census there are more than 4.80 lakh transgenders in the country. Kataria said the bill has provisions for penalty and punishment in cases of offences and sexual harassment against transgender persons.
The bill has removed a contentious provision that criminalised begging by transgender people. The provision was part of the bill when it was introduced by the previous government which had lapsed.
The bill defines a transgender as a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-woman (whether or not such person has undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with inter-sex variations, gender-queer and person having such socio-cultural identities as ‘kinner’, ‘hijra’, ‘aravani’ and ‘jogta.’
Going by the bill, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy. It also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and district screening committee to get certified as a trans person. The bill will also be discussed in Rajya Sabha today.
Participating in the debate on the bill, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari called transgenders a symbol of happiness. They visit homes of people during the time of celebrations and happiness and it is also important to save their culture and heritage.
However, The bill faces criticism from the transgender community for not catering to the nuances of the problems a trans person has to face.