All govt offices, MCDs, police to have separate toilets for transgender persons
The Delhi government has made it mandatory for all its departments, offices, district authorities, municipal corporations, state-run companies and the Delhi Police to have separate and exclusive washrooms for transgender persons.
An order to this effect was issued by chief secretary Vijay Dev on Friday (February 12). “In compliance with the provisions of Section 22 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, for ensuring adequate welfare measures for transgender persons, all public buildings under all the departments, autonomous bodies, PSUs, corporations, and local bodies of Government of NCT Delhi are hereby directed to create separate identified public toilet facilities for transgender persons,” read the order.
“It is also clarified that trans people shall continue to be allowed to use gender-based toilets as per their self-identified gender,” the order further stated.
While activists from the field welcomed the move, they said the government should rather focus on building gender-neutral toilets and highlighted that the Supreme Court had ordered access to separate toilets for transgender individuals in public places including hospitals way back in 2014.
“The Apex Court accorded third gender status to transgender people seven years ago and the verdict also included an individual’s right to determine the gender they identify with. The problem is not just in government offices, but also in public toilets in open spaces. Rather than having separate toilets which further marginalises people from our community, the government should build gender-neutral toilets or at least give keep that as an option in all buildings. Not having access to such basic facility is a violation of the fundamental right to life and dignity,” said Amrita Sarkar, advisor, transgender wellbeing and advocacy at India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
The Delhi government has given a maximum time of two years to all agencies to build these exclusive toilets. The directive will be applicable not just to all Delhi government departments, agencies, companies and institutions, but also to the three municipal corporations and the Delhi Police.
“In case such facilities are not immediately possible to be created separately, for the time being, all standalone toilets meant for persons with disabilities (PwD)shall be designated for use of transgender persons as well, till separate facilities for transgender persons are created within a time period of two years from the date of issue this order,” read the directive from Dev.
The chief secretary further said such toilets will display symbols for both PwDs and “T” for transgender persons.