Cabinet passes reworked Transgender Bill

• Two years after it introduced a Bill on transgender rights in Lok Sabha, the government has reworked the definition and several crucial clauses and is set to re-introduce it in Lok Sabha next week.

• The Cabinet on Wednesday cleared 27 amendments to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill and accepted nine of the 11 major suggestions of a parliamentary standing committee, which had examined the Bill. The definition, which had received a lot of flak from social rights activists and the parliamentary panel, has been changed.

• In the earlier Bill, a transgender person was defined as ‘one who is (i) neither wholly female or male (ii) a combination of female and male; or (iii) neither female or male.’ It also requires that such a person’s gender ‘not match the gender assigned at birth, and includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.

• After the observation of the committee that he definition goes against international norms, the Cabinet has ‘modified the definition and has defined a transgender as ‘whose gender does not match with the gender assigned at birth and includes trans-men, trans-women, gender-queers, and other sociocultural identities.’

• Earlier there was o option of self-declaration for a transgender but now the reworked Bill has said that 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.

• The Bill had earlier made it mandatory for any organization employing 100 or more persons to designate an official to examine complaints of discrimination and other grievances. The government has modified this and removed the limit of 100 persons to include to all organizations and institutions.

• The government, however, has refused to address two major issues – decriminalizing homosexuality under Section 377 that directly concerns transgenders and reservation for transgender community in educational institutions and government organizations.

• Social Justice Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot said that the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality is under the Supreme Court purview. It is being examined so the government cannot take a call on it. Even the quantum of reservation in government jobs and educational institutions is frozen by the courts. So the government cannot address the issue.