Open Appeal to Parliament: Stop Enactment of Transgender Bill, 2016
The Bill seriously undermines the rights of the marginalised community it claims to 'protect'
NEW DELHI: National Alliance of People’s Movements is deeply concerned that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, to which there is massive resistance across the country from the transgender, intersex, genderqueer people, is being tabled in the Winter Session of the Parliament.
The Bill in its current form is an unfortunately regressive step back from the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in NALSA vs UoI (April, 2014), the more acceptable Private Member Bill on Transgender Rights passed by Rajya Sabha in 2014 and the progressive Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Recommendations issued in July, 2017.
The Bill has a potential to seriously undermine the rights and interests of the already marginalized and historically wronged communities it claims to ‘protect’ and benefit’. It is for these reasons that NAPM appeals to the Parliament of India to Stop passage of the Transgender Bill in its current form and instead hold widespread consultations with the communities at stake in the light of NALSA judgement, Private Member Bill and PSC recommendations.
It is indeed appalling that disregarding the significant discourse that has emerged around trans rights as mentioned above, the Bill again resorts to a series of draconian provisions. These include:
- ambiguous and humiliating definition of transgender;
- arbitrary district screening committee for identification and authentication of trans persons;
- criminalization of begging and traditional livelihoods, especially in the light of no provisions for jobs and reservations;
- non-recognition of the structures of family and care of hijra and trans people;
- stipulation of lesser penalties in cases of violence and discrimination against trans persons;
- replacing ‘Transgender Commission’ with a weaker ‘Council’;
- no affirmative measures to enable education and employment of trans persons.
Owing to pressure from trans communities across the country, we have been seeing sporadic news reports that the government of India has been ‘considering’ incorporation of some of the progressive recommendations of the PSC, such as expanding the definition of ‘transgender’ and dropping the ‘district screening committee’. However, there is no guarantee on many other substantive and long-standing demands of the community such as stringent penal provisions against discrimination, reservations in education and employment, healthcare, National and State Transgender Commissions etc. There is no official clarity on any of the changes that might be made.
We salute the valiant transgender, intersex, genderqueer people who have been organizing massive resistance across the country, particularly in West Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Manipur, Maharashtra, Delhi etc. against the unacceptable provisions of the Bill. We express our full solidarity with their Call for a National Protest Action on December 17 at Parliament Street, New Delhi.
It is rather ironic that a Bill of this nature, a first of its kind in the 70 years of ‘independent India’, with a claim to undo the historical injustice and recognize citizenship rights of the transgender community is actually trampling upon the rights of the community and denying basic constitutional, civil and citizenship rights.
A Bill in the name of the transgender community should ideally be introduced and passed with the approval of the community and certainly not in such a situation where there is enormous critique and widespread protests against the Bill.
We appeal to the Parliament of India, as a key pillar of our democratic edifice, and to each and every parliamentarian, across party lines, to stop passage of the Bill in its present form and listen to the demands of the community with sensitivity and openness.
We hope Parliament will stop this version, consult the community and then come up with a Bill, incorporating the progressive aspects upheld by the NALSA judgement, Private Member Bill and PSC recommendations, so that the community welcomes with the Bill open arms and not with protests, petitions and placards.
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information andNAPM
Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and NAPM, Odisha
P.Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh VyavasayaVruthidarula Union-APVVU and National Centre For Labour and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)
Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
Gabriele Dietrich, Pennurimai Iyakkam, Madurai and NAPM (Tamilnadu)
Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, (Tamilnadu)
Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party and NAPM, Uttar Pradesh
Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, and NAPM, Karnataka
Maj Gen (Retd)S.G.Vombatkere, Mysuru, NAPM, Karnataka
Arundhati Dhuru, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh
Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof.Kusumam NAPM, Kerala
Anand Mazgaonkar and Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, NAPM Gujarat
Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)
Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand
Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-MoolnivasiAstivtva Raksha Samiti, NAPM Jharkhand
Dr.Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and NAPM, Madhya Pradesh
Samar Bagchi and Amitava Mitra, NAPM West Bengal
Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, and Prasad Bagwe, NAPM Maharashtra
Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan
Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhattisgarh
Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM
KaladasDahariya, RELAA, Chhatisgarh
Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-Andhra Pradesh
Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, NAPM, Delhi
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana
J S Walia, NAPM Haryana
Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, and NAPM, Odisha
Guruwant Singh, NAPM Punjab
Richa Singh, Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM Uttar Pradesh
Arul Doss, NAPM (Tamilnadu)
Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand
Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar
Kamayani Swami and Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, and NAPM Bihar
Mahendra Yadav,KosiNavnirmanManch, NAPM Bihar
Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai and NAPM
Rajendra Ravi, Nanhu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Sunita Rani, Amit Kumar, Himshi Singh, Uma, NAPM, Delhi
Aaquib Zabed Mazumder, Rajesh Serupally, NAPM, Telangana – Andhra Pradesh