Cabinet Approves Changes to Transgender Rights Bill, But No Reservations for Transgender Community

The Modi cabinet has finally accepted many of the recommendations and changes to the Transgender Rights Bill by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, including changing the definition of transgender. The Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha two years ago, had met with strong opposition from the transgender community, which said that the bill went against the spirit of NALSA judgement. Among some of the points of objections were how the bill defined who a transgender person is, and the formation of a committee to certify a person as transgender.

The Bill defined a transgender person as “one who is (i) neither wholly female or male (ii) a combination of female and male; or (iii) neither female nor male.” According to reports, the cabinet has cleared 27 amendments to the previous bill and accepted nine out of 11 recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee. The modified bill now defines as Transgender Bill as “whose gender does not match with the gender assigned at birth and includes trans-men, trans-women, gender-queers, and other sociocultural identities.” The bill now also gives a person the right to self identify his/her/their gender, irrespective of whether they have undergone sex reassignment surgery or not.

The government has however refused to accept the recommendations of the committee regarding removal of Section 377 and reservation for transgender community. Speaking to Economic Times, social justice minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot said, “The issue of decriminalising homosexuality is under the Supreme Court purview. It is being examined so we cannot take a call on this. Even the quantum of reservation in government jobs and educational institutions is frozen by the courts. So we cannot address the issues.”

The modified Bill will be reintroduced in Lok Sabha next week.

Sukhdeep Singh