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Lesbians, gays and bisexuals not third gender, clarifies SC

delhipaper Updated: Jul 01, 2016 10:35 IST
Rocky Soibam Singh
Rocky Soibam Singh

NEW DELHI: Gay, Lesbian and bisexual people are not transgender and cannot avail quotas meant for the third gender category, the Supreme Court clarified on Thursday, potentially clearing hurdles in the way of benefits for one of India’s most marginalised sections.

The decision ends confusion over the definition of “transgender” that has resulted in poor implementation of the provisions of a landmark 2014 SC verdict that recognised a third gender and termed them a “socially and educationally backward class”.

Thursday’s decision came after the Centre approached the court asking for a clarification over whether lesbian, gay and bisexual people are transgenders or not.

But the SC bench comprising justice AK Sikri and justice NV Ramana took exception to the Centre’s plea, saying the 2014 verdict was clear on what constituted the transgender community.

“Why should we not dismiss the application with costs? No clarification is required. The application (of Centre) is disposed of,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for some transgender activists, said the Centre had used the clarification petition as an excuse to not implement the landmark verdict.

India has several indigenous communities of transgender people -- such as Hijras in north India, Aravanis in Tamil Nadu, Jogappas in Karnataka – who often face violence and discrimination.

But the community has gained strength in the last few years, appearing in prominent campaigns and joining groundbreaking professions as journalists, IT workers, cab drivers, singers and teachers.

The 2014 judgment was hailed worldwide with activists saying the provisions of quotas and legal recognition could help transgender people in elevating their employment and education status.

But scant implementation has left many in the community dispirited.

In 2014, the top court had issued a series of directions underlining the need for the government to take measures to bring transgender people into the mainstream.

“We direct the Centre and state governments to take steps to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes and extend reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments,” the SC had said.

The apex court had also restricted the meaning given to transgender community.

“Transgender has come to be known as umbrella term which includes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and cross dressers. However, while dealing with the present issue, we are not concerned with this aforesaid wider meaning,” the SC had said.

“In this country, TG (transgender) community comprise of Hijaras, Enunch, Kothis, Aravanis, Jogappas, Shiv-Shakthis etc.”