LGBTQIA+

Rajya Sabha Passes Controversial Transgender Rights Bill

Transgender activists have widely criticised this Bill, arguing that it is likely to further discrimination and stigma in the name of protecting rights.

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 by a voice vote, without any amendments. The Lok Sabha had passed this Bill on August 5, in the monsoon session of parliament.

The Bill was moved in the Upper House by minister for social justice Thaawarchand Gehlot.

While MPs including Rajeev Gowda and Tiruchi Siva had asked for significant amendments to the Bill, it was passed by the House without making any changes.

Transgender activists have widely criticised this Bill, arguing that it is likely to further discrimination and stigma in the name of protecting rights. It talked about gender in a fixed binary, they have said, which goes against what both the trans rights movement and the feminist movement have been arguing.

Activists had also argued that the Bill was not opened up for consultation with the affected community, even though it was supposedly meant to further their rights. This is

Writing in The Wire, Dhruva Gandhi and Unnati Ghia argued that the Bill clearly shows society’s bias against trans people. Sexual abuse of a transgender person, for instance, is punishable by only two years imprisonment under the Bill – as opposed to sexual abuse under the Indian Penal Code, where the minimum punishment is seven years.

“It is only fitting that legislation that seeks to grant rights to transgender persons does not rest on questionable assumptions in so far as the conceptualisation of ‘gender’ and ‘equality’ are concerned. Unfortunately, this Bill does precisely that. It is still some distance away from allowing members of the transgender community to fully realise their identities,” they write.

Just on Sunday, the Pride Parade in Delhi was also used as a protest march against the Bill. However, it appears that MPs decided to go ahead with passing the Bill instead of listening to what trans people had to say about it.

Several activists and others took to Twitter after the Bill was passed, expressing their dismay.