The Gender Beat: Activists Want Transgender Bill Redrafted; French Women Protest Pay Gap

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality.

Supporters of LGBT rights during a pride parade. Credit: PTI

Supporters of LGBT rights during a pride parade. Credit: PTI

Activists say transgender Bill narrows down definition of community, demand revised draft of Bill

Transgender activists last week argued that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 narrows down the definition of the community by taking away the right of self-determination and said that the Bill needed to be further reviewed since it was moved away from the Supreme Court’s landmark NALSA judgement, PTI reported.

In response to public suggestions sought by the parliamentary panel examining the draft Bill, the delegation of over 150 activists said that it would result in “discrimination” and “violence” towards the transgender community.        

The activists alleged that the screening process to certify a person as transgender would violate a person’s dignity and sought clarity on reservations saying that the draft Bill did not declare transgender persons as a backward class nor did it list any clear entitlements to them.

Chayanika, a queer rights activist told PTI, “There are different levels of marginalisation. A person cannot be simply put under OBC category. There is a need for separate reservation policy for transgenders.”

Terming their objections to the Bill as “non-negotiable”, they said the Bill needed to be redrafted after deliberations and in-depth consultations with the transgender and intersex communities.

Canada gives foreign visitors gender-neutral options at border

Canada is set to introduce a border document on Thursday that has provisions for foreign visitors to identify themselves as male, female or others in it. With this development, the country joins a handful of nations offering gender-neutral options, Reuters reports.

According to officials, the new Electronic Travel Authorisations with three gender options will be for travellers flying into or through Canada.

A spokesperson for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) – the federal agency that issues travel documents – told Reuters that the country has also taken measures to allow people who have changed their gender to switch the designation on their passports and other identity documents such as travel, residency or employment papers.

“IRCC is committed to facilitating the issuance of identification with a sex designation that reflects a person’s gender identity,” the Canadian spokeswoman said.

Among other countries that offer a gender-neutral option is Australia, which offers passport options of male, female or X. Nepal and New Zealand are also among a handful of countries that also offer third options.

In the Reuters article, Ellen Wulfhorst writes that having the ability to designate an “other” gender option on identity documents has become a cause among several LGBT groups that represent people who do not consider themselves to be male or female.

“This small step of inclusiveness for visitors is yet another reason for Canada to implement a third gender marker on passports, an option currently under serious consideration,” Paul Castillo, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email. “Inaccurate documents serve only to discriminate and impose barriers upon people who are neither male nor female.”

French women protest gender pay gap by refusing to work after 4:34 p.m.

Women in France on Monday left their offices at 4:34 p.m. to show their solidarity with a mass protest against women being paid less than men and in a fight to close the gender pay gap in the country.

In an article in The Independent, Lucy Pasha-Robinson writes that women in the European country work the equivalent of 38.2 more days every year than men for the same salary.

The average French woman, the article claims, was paid 15.1% less than a man in 2010.

French women gather to protest the pay gap on November 7, 2016. Credit: Elide Elide/Flickr

French women gather to protest the pay gap on November 7, 2016. Credit: Elide Elide/Flickr

Rebecca Amsellem, the founder of Les Glorieuses group that lead the campaign told The Independent. “We wanted to raise an awareness of inequality in the workplace so that everyone involved, whether it’s women or men, can propose their own solutions to this problem – nothing about this problem is normal.”

Adding that it had become imperative to raise awareness of the pay gap between the sexes, she said, “Everyone was able to participate in this campaign in their own way. We were not insisting all women walk out at 4.34 p.m., but perhaps that they take a break at this time, or write a post on social media or speak about it with their colleagues.”

The main goal of the campaign, she said, was to start a conversation.

The Les Glorieuses activists had not intended to spark demonstrations with their call to protest in this manner, according to The Guardian, which reached two million people through the social media service Thunderclap.

The French protest follows a similar move in Iceland on October 24 when thousands of women stopped work and took to the streets of Reykjavik after 2:38 pm to protest against the 14% wage inequality in the country.

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