The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 has been listed for passage during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament. This Bill was introduced in the Monsoon Session last year and referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, which tabled its report earlier this year. The Bill seeks to recognise transgender persons, and confer anti-discriminatory rights and entitlements related to education, employment, health, and welfare measures. This post explains key provisions of the Bill and certain issues for consideration.
Self-identification and obtaining a Certificate of Identity
The Bill provides for ‘self-perceived gender identity’ i.e. persons can determine their gender on their own. This is in line with a Supreme Court judgement (2014) which held that the self determination of one’s gender is part of the fundamental right to dignity, freedom and personal autonomy guaranteed under the Constitution.
Along with the provision on ‘self-perceived gender identity’, the Bill also provides for a screening process to obtain a Certificate of Identity. This Certificate will certify the person as ‘transgender’. An application for obtaining such a Certificate will be referred to a District Screening Committee which will comprise five members including a medical officer, psychologist or psychiatrist, and a representative of the transgender community.
Offences and penalties
The Bill specifies certain offences which include: (i) compelling transgender persons to beg or do forced or bonded labour, and (ii) physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse. These offences will attract imprisonment between six months and two years, in addition to a fine.
The Standing Committee recommended graded punishment for different offences, and suggested that those involving physical and sexual assault should attract higher punishment. It further stated that the Bill must also specifically recognise and provide appropriate penalties for violence faced by transgender persons from officials in educational institutions, healthcare institutions, police stations, etc. Read more via The India Saga