Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Social Justice [Paper-I]: Rights Issues (Human rights, Women rights, SC/ST rights, Child rights, etc.)
- Parliament passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, with the Rajya Sabha approving it on 26th November, 2019. Lok Sabha had already passed the bill.
- The bill seeks to provide a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgender persons in India.
Key Features of the Bill
Definition of a transgender person:
- The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth.
- It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.
Right of residence:
Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
Prohibition against discrimination:
The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to:
- Education, Employment and Healthcare
- Access to or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public
- Right to movement
- Right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property
- Opportunity to hold public or private office
- Access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is
No government or private entity can discriminate against a transgender person in employment matters, including recruitment, and promotion.
Educational institutions funded or recognised by the relevant government shall provide inclusive education, sports and recreational facilities for transgender persons, without discrimination.
- The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.
- The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
Certificate of identity:
- A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
- A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.
Offences and penalties:
Penalties for offences against transgender persons vary between six months and two years, and a fine. The Bill recognizes the following offences against transgender persons:
- Forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes)
- Denial of use of public places,
- Removal from household, and village
- Physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse
- The Bill will make all the stakeholders responsive and accountable for upholding the principles underlying the Bill.
- It will bring greater accountability on the part of the Central Government and State Governments/Union Territories Administrations for issues concerning Transgender persons.
- The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalized section and bring them into the mainstream of society.
- It will lead to greater inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
Criticisms Againt the Bill
- While the Act is progressive in that it allows self-perception of identity, it mandates a certificate from a district magistrate declaring the holder to be transgender. This goes against the principle of self determination itself.
- The Bill appears to continue to mandate sex reassignment surgery for transgender people. This requirement would contravene the Supreme Court’s judgment in National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India (UOI), which guarantees the right to self-identification without the need for medical intervention.
- The Bill does not make provision for affirmative action in employment or education despite the Supreme Court’s judgement.
- The Bill sets out lighter sentences for several criminal offences, such as “sexual abuse” and “physical abuse”, when they are committed against transgender people.
- In addition, the Bill does not adequately define these offences and retains provisions that could be used in a discriminatory manner to target transgender people for criminal prosecution.