Population Foundation of India (PFI) appeals for a review of the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, 17 December 2018.
We express solidarity with the transgender, intersex, gender non-conforming community and their allies against this bill that is contrary to the word and spirit of the landmark Supreme Court verdict in National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India (NALSA, 2014). It not only violates constitutional rights and legitimises discrimination but it also offers little protection against violence, no reservation in education & employment and does not account for easier access to healthcare.
In a historic year that set aside provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill presents as an infringement on individual bodily autonomy, rights and identity guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
It is clear that the bill in its current form does not include the amendments, critiques and recommendations made by civil society and the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Many provisions of the bill are fundamentally flawed and have the potential to put the entire transgender community under increased threat of violence and vulnerability. Self-identification in any gender should be upheld and should not require certification by a district steering committee. Penalties and consequences for violence against trans people should be equivalent to that of cisgender people. Moreover, the government should take action to improve education, skills and employment opportunities for trans people without criminalizing begging.
In the spirit of rights, dignity and choice, PFI strongly urges the government to withdraw the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 from consideration in the Rajya Sabha. PFI recommends that this bill in its current form be presented to a select committee in the Rajya Sabha to assess whether it aligns with the word and spirit of the 2014 NALSA verdict. Alternatively, we urge the government to take up and pass the progressive Private Member’s Bill (passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2015) in the Lok Sabha.