The transgender community had unequivocally rejected the Bill and the Opposition had sought that the Bill be sent to a Select Committee.

Image from Namma Pride held in Bengaluru on November 24, 2019
news Parliament Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - 17:12

The controversial Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The motion to send the Bill to a Select Committee was turned down with 70 noes and 55 ayes.

 Before the Bill was passed, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva made an appeal to the Deputy Chairman to send the Bill to a Select Committee and listed out the reasons why the Bill must be reconsidered. 

“The trans community has called this Bill regressive and hard-hearted. They have asked for a comprehensive Bill. A Bill should be wholesome and comprehensive. Why don’t you give six weeks at least, send it to Select Committee and then you hear them out. A slow and steady regulation will not do any harm,” he said. He also sought reservation for the trans community in India

TMC MP Derek O’Brien also pushed for the Bill to be sent to a Select Committee. “We need to go beyond this Bill and look at other Bills which also need to change to address the concerns of the trans community, like POCSO, Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act,” he said. 

In August earlier this year, the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in August by a voice vote at the time that Article 370 was abrogated. It was passed despite opposition, after Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot moved the Bill. 

The current Bill states that a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender person, which is ‘self-perceived’. However, it then goes on to add that transgender persons will be screened and certified by the district magistrate after they have undergone surgery. They will be certified by the district magistrate only based on the certificate given by a medical superintendent or chief medical officer. In the event that the individual is denied the certificate, the Bill mentions no provisions for an appeal or review of the decision taken by the District Magistrate.

When the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, the transgender community unequivocally rejected the bill. At the time it was passed in the Lower House of Parliament, activist Grace Banu told TNM, “The Bill is equal to killing trans people. The government is supposed to draft laws and schemes for the people but this Bill is totally against the people.”

Also read: Why the trans community in India is rejecting Trans Bill 2019

All India Mahila Congress National General Secretary Apsara Reddy said in a statement that the Bill goes against “the spirit of equality and the principles of equal treatment and self-determination of all persons”.

MP Jaya Bachchan, opposing some parts of the Bill, told the House: “What is the need to humiliate them like this that you have to go and tell a committee, the district magistrate, that you are transgender. It is very humiliating. It is not what we should do to a human being.”

“What if tomorrow the district magistrate I am not convinced? I do not agree. The bill in no way says what the recourse for this person is,” MP Sasmit Patra told the House.

He then added: “I am worried that tomorrow the transgender [persons] may have the Bill, but they will not have the right and the protection”.

Also read: Why Transgender Persons Bill 2018 is a healthcare nightmare for the community