The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which will pave the way for the community to be declared as the third gender with an option to identify themselves as male, female or transgender.
However, the bill cleared by the cabinet does not explicitly talk about giving reservation to such transgenders who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
“A committee will be formed to decide on whether such transgenders should be declared as member of the backward class and if they are entitled to reservation like the OBC (Other Backward Class),” said a ministry official.
The social justice and empowerment ministry that is piloting the bill plans to introduce it in the ongoing session of Parliament. According to the 2011 Census, there are five lakh transgender persons in the country.
The cabinet’s decision comes after the Rajya Sabha passed a private member’s bill — the Right of Transgender Persons bill — moved by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva last April. While passing it, the government had committed to draft its own bill to for protecting transgender rights.
Among the other provisions of the bill, forcing a transgender into bonded labour or inciting them to beg, dispossessing them from their land or forcing them to leave their home/village and removing their clothes will be treated as offence punishable with up to two years in jail and fine.
“Through this bill, the government has evolved a mechanism for their social, economic and educational empowerment. The bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalised section and bring them into the mainstream of society,” a government release said.
As of now, there is no law for transgenders.