The Indian government has notified the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act despite nation-wide protests against the legislation in its current form. The Bill quietly received assent from President Ram Nath Kovind on December 5, and was made into a law.
Ever since the Bill was tabled in the Parliament, transgender communities and allies have been protesting against it for various reasons. They've said that the Act treats trans persons as inferior citizens, and is in contravention to the 2014 NALSA judgment of the Supreme Court which enshrined the right to self-determination.
The day the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, transgender communities and activists called it a ‘Gender Justice Murder Day’.
Some of the problems with the Bill are that it requires a transgender person to go to a District Magistrate and a District Screening Committee to have their gender identity certified. A revised certificate for the same can only be obtained if the person has undergone gender affirmation surgery. There are also no provisions for appeal in the scenario that the certificate is denied by the DM to the individual.
Further, the Act does not talk about reservations for people of the trans communities in education or employment.
It has also designated the punishment for sexual assault on a trans person to a maximum of two years whereas the minimum punishment for raping a cis gender woman is 10 years. This, activists have argued, deems transgender persons as lesser, as inferior.
Protests have been consistently happening across the country against this law. Protesters had been asking for the Bill to be sent back to the Parliament, to be looked at by a select committee and modified to reflect the concerns of the transgender communities. Agitators have also said that a major problem with the law was that its present form was reached without taking feedback from transgender persons.
Those protesting the Bill had also said that they would knock on the Supreme Court's doors if it was passed in its current form.
The Act is unconstitutional. This is how you 'erase' and '#encounter' an entire community. By law. Well, law was never ours. So our fight for justice would continue not because, but despite the law. For, when Injustice becomes law, Resistance becomes duty! #stoptransbill2019— Meera Sanghamitra (@meeracomposes) December 7, 2019
The Trans Bill was quietly signed on December 5th, despite extensive protests. There is, however, no time for mourning. We are here, we are hopeful, and we are enraged. This is far from over. #stoptransbill2019 #StopTransBill #TransBill2019 pic.twitter.com/cOyGOJwGVV— AKD (@TheHoleyBibli) December 7, 2019