No proposal for transgender reservation: Govt
The Centre is working on a scheme to ensure access to health, education and livelihood for transgender persons but there is no proposal to enforce reservations for the community, the government told Parliament on Tuesday.
The response by the Union social justice minister Thaawarchand Gehlot was to a question by Congress MP Revanth Reddy and it came roughly a year after the government enacted the transgender rights act.
In its response, the government said the Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Act 2019 and rules under the legislation mandated the central and state governments to take up schemes that address access to health, education, welfare, shelter and economic support for livelihoods.
“A scheme is being formulated for addressing the above, which includes skill upgradation. As of now there is no proposal for providing reservations to the transgender persons in education or jobs,” the written answer read.
In response to another question by the same parliamentarian, minister of state for social justice and empowerment Rattan Lal Kataria said the government spent ₹98.50 lakhs in supporting 6,940 transgender persons from 33 states and union territories during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The National Backward Class Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) gave Rs1,500 each to transgender persons through direct benefit transfer and also provided ration supplies, the Centre declared.
The transgender community was among the worst hit when India imposed a lockdown last March to arrest the spread of Covid-19. Many members also appealed to the government in May for basic provisions because they struggled to access livelihood, food, medication and housing.
Data furnished by the ministry showed that the maximum beneficiaries were in Tamil Nadu (1036) followed by Delhi (876) and West Bengal (814). “Free helpline assistance was setup to provide psycho-social support to transgender community during Covid period,” the answer, furnished in the Lok Sabha, read.
But the help may have been inadequate. “The transgender community was badly hit by the virus and the lockdown. Many were on the streets. We needed more help from the government, including reservation in jobs and education,” said Shameena, a transgender activist.
In 2016, the transgender rights bill was drafted by the government in response to the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment that confirmed the rights of the community, and a 2015 private member’s bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. But almost immediately, activists and transgender groups criticised the draft legislation for confused definitions, focus on medical screening and criminalization of traditional occupations such as begging. The bill was then sent to a select committee and underwent several modifications before being passed by Parliament in November 2019.
But many activists still say the law still has inadequate penal provisions for crimes and discrimination against transgender persons and no reservations for the community. The medical screening clause, for authorities to provide a transgender certificate, has also not been done away.