M A I N   N E W S

SC recognises transgenders, tells Centre to fix job quota
Court declares them as ‘third gender’ Activists hail verdict
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 15
The Supreme Court on Tuesday recognised the transgender community as a third gender and directed the government to treat ‘hijras’ and eunuchs as socially backward and offer them employment and educational quota.

“We direct the Centre and the state governments to take steps to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments,” a Bench comprising Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said in a 130-page landmark judgment on a PIL filed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

There are hundreds of thousands of transgenders in India, say activists, but because they are not legally recognised, they are ostracised, discriminated against, abused and often forced into prostitution.

In all, the apex court issued nine directives to the government. It said the Centre and the states should take steps for framing various social welfare schemes for their betterment.

Under the first directive, the SC asked the government to treat them as a “third gender” for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under the Constitution and central and state laws.

Measures should be taken to help them “regain their respect and place in society which once they enjoyed,” the court said. The government should operate separate HIV sero-surveillance centres for transgenders, who faced several health issues, and help them overcome “fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies, social stigma”.

Proper medical care should be given to them in hospitals and there should be separate public toilets and other facilities, the Bench said. Further, the government should create public awareness so that TGs had a feeling that they were part and parcel of social life, instead of being treated as untouchables.

“Seldom, our society realises or cares to realise the trauma, agony and pain which the members of the transgender community undergo, nor appreciates their innate feelings,” the SC lamented.

Transgenders were elated following the judgment, but were afraid social acceptance will take longer because of the stigma and discrimination associated with them.

Transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi said the verdict was a great step towards ending such discrimination. "Today Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice AK Sikri said any nation can progress only after it grants all the rights and human rights to its citizens.”

(With agency inputs) 

"Transgenders are also citizens of India. The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender." — SC Bench 

What it means

* A person who is transgender does not identify with the gender stated on their birth certificate

* The petitioners' lawyers said this would mean that all identity documents, including a birth certificate, passport and driving licence would recognise the third gender, along with male and female

* The government will also have to allocate a certain percentage of public sector jobs, seats in schools and colleges to third gender applicants

Hope floats for LGBTs

"It is a significant judgment that has given equal rights to transgenders like any other citizen of India. This judgment also means hope to the LGBT community and we are hopeful to win that battle too." — Onir, filmmaker & gay rights’ activist





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