Govt to Reintroduce Transgender Rights Bill in Monsoon Session of Parliament

The government is set to re-introduce the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill in the monsoon session of the Parliament that is set to begin from July 18th and end on August 10th. The session will have nearly 18 sittings, and apart from the Transgender Rights Bill, the government will also be introducing the Triple Talaq Bill as well.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was first introduced in 2016, but was vehemently opposed by the transgender community, as it went against many of the recommendations of NALSA judgement. The Bill defined a transgender person as being “neither wholly male, nor wholly female” and also required screening committees to certify a person as transgender.

The Bill was then sent to a Standing Committee, which after consultation with avrious stakeholders, made some sweeping recommendations. Apart from coming down heavily on the government for a botched up definition of the word transgender, the committee recommended legally recognising marriages for transgender people, reservations in jobs and education, and defining what constitutes discrimination against transgender people and punishing violence against them.

However, initial reports had suggested that the government would not be including any of the recommendations of the committe and go ahead with the original bill. Later, it was reported that the government had decided to incorporate some of the recommendations of the Committee. The ministry, it was reported, had changed the definition of transgender.

A PTI report from March 2018 states that according to the new definition proposed in the Bill, “a transgender means a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-women (whether or not such persons have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy)”. The same report mentions that, “the ministry has also done away with the provision of recommendation required from district screening committees for issuing a certificate if a transgender undergoes a surgery to change his or her gender.”

However, recommendations related to marriages of transgender people and reservations for the community have been ignored by the government. It is unclear whether a person who has not undergone a sex reassignment surgery will still be required to obtain a certificate from a committe for being a transgender. This has been a major contentious point of the Bill, and goes against the NALSA judgement.

Sukhdeep Singh