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Collective Statement against the Anti-LGBTQIA+ legislations in India

We, the undersigned LGBTQIA+ students/individuals from campuses and cities across the country resist and condemn The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 and The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018 passed by Lok Sabha in its current draconian form.

We oppose “The Trafficking of Persons Bill 2018” because it replicates the existing discriminatory laws, brings into the ambit populations/sections that have different problems, gives immense powers to the police, creates additional unaccountable bureaucracy, criminalizes whole swathes of population, and lacks any credible model of rehabilitation as it does not allocate any resources. The Bill lacks key definitions (e.g. forced labour, exploitation). The Bill reflects illogical gradation of offences, New offences unrelated to trafficking (Section 41(2)); Vaguely worded offences with disproportionate sentencing; Anti-slavery provision re-incorporated though irrelevant; reversal of burden of proof and introduction of absolute liability offences; Introduction of strict liability offences; high levels of punishment and lack of clear sentencing policy; weak punishment for employers; violation of right to property; provisions relating to bail presume guilt rather than innocence). The Bill uses failed approach of institutionalized rehabilitation with inadequate commitment of resources rather than community-based rehabilitation. The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and on Trafficking have also expressed their displeasure with the bill.

posted of student collectiveWe condemn “The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018” as it violates more rights than it claims to protect. It is contrary to the Supreme Court NALSA verdict and violates the right to self-identity and constitutional rights, encodes discrimination, offers no reservations while criminalizing transgender community traditional livelihood of begging. It stands in stark violation of the fundamental rights of transgender persons enshrined in the Constitution as equal citizens, judgement of the Apex Court in NALSA vs. Union of India in 2014. For example, the Bill has created a two-tier system within the transgender community, wherein persons who have not had sex reassignment surgery (SRS) can only identify as transgender and not as male or female, and the identification as transgender depends on scrutiny and certification by a District Screening Committee; those seeking to identify as male or female need to have had SRS. This is completely contrary to the NALSA verdict. We note here that the concept of a District Screening Committee that seeks to validate the ‘authenticity’ of a transgender person’s identity is not only completely against the letter and spirit of NALSA, but also provides immense scope for abuse. The Bill is a retrograde step from previous iterations of transgender persons’ rights such as reservation, employment and education opportunities as iterated in the NALSA judgment, MSJE report, the Tiruchi Siva Bill, and the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendations. The GOI Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) 2018 Bill also seeks to destroy non-normative family structures and support systems that transgender persons in India have been seeking support from all these years. It also encodes discrimination with lower penalties for sexual and physical violence against transgender people.    

Furthermore, we call out the enormously bigoted, homophobic & trans-phobic The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2018, as passed by the Lok Sabha is another institutional mechanism to control our bodies. It makes surrogacy available to exclusively heteronormative couples, impairing non-heteronormative couples from availing these methods to have babies.

We urge the Members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) to conscientiously consider our appeal and send these Bills for a review by a Select Committee of the Indian Parliament. We extend our solidarity to the Jantar Mantar Protest, happening on 28th December, 2018 at New Delhi and to all the protest demonstrations that are happening across the country in opposition to these Bills.  We urge every citizen to join the protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi in our struggle for equal fundamental rights for all.

We plan to hold public discussions, rallies and talks simultaneously across campuses and cities on the day of the protest.  We call Individuals, student groups, queer collectives to join in demonstrations across campuses/cities against the Bills and other legislations against the marginalised groups such as transgender and queer persons, sex workers, migrant workers, domestic workers, etc,by creating literature regarding the political and legal issues faced by the queer community in India.

*Statement open for endorsement till the 27th December, 2359 hours*

Endorsements can be sent to

 

 

 

List of Signatories:

1.TISS Queer Collective, Mumbai
2.Spectra, Pondicherry University
3.Jamia Queer Collective
4 Ambedkar University Delhi Queer Collective
5.Women and Gender Development Cell, TISS Guwahati
6. Uttarang, TISS Guwahati
7. The Gender Studies Cell, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi
8. Miranda House Queer Collective, Miranda House, Delhi
9. Queer Collective, Dehradun
10.Resistive Alliance for Queer Solidarity, Allahabad
11.Gender Issues Cell, K.C. College, Mumbai University
12.Abhimaan, Kolhapur
13.Hasratein, JNU
14. Orenda, IIT-Gandhinagar
15.TISS Queer Collective, Hyderabad
16.NLSQA : National Law School Queer Alliance, Bangalore
17. SavitriBai Intersectional Study Circle, NALSAR
18. Xomonnoy (Intersectional Queer Feminist Group, Guwahati, Assam
19.Lambda, IIT Guwahati
20.The Queer and Ally Network, Manipal
21. Queerythm, Kerala
22. Jadavpur University Queer Collective
23. NLU Delhi Queer Collective
24. NLU Delhi Gender Circle
25. Students coordinating from St. Edmunds, Shillong
26. Students coordinating from NIFT, Shillong
27. Students coordinating from IHM, Pusa
28. Students coordinating from Pune University
29. Students coordinating from NLUJAA, Assam
30. Students coordinating from Guwahati University
31. Students coordinating from University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya
32. Queer and Straight allies at IISC (QUASI)
33. Queerabad, Ahmedabad
34. LGBTQIA+ Students, Jindal Global University
35. Dr. Kimberly Walters, California State University, Long Beach
37. Awadh Queer Committee
38. LGBTQ Resource group at IIM Ahmedabad
39. Umeed – an LGBTQIA+ Collective, IIM Kozhikode
40. Ya_All: Queer and Allies Youth Network, Manipur
41. Pinjra Tod, New Delhi
42. Akshaya, the Queer Collective of Netaji Subhas University of Technology (NSUT)
43. Orinam Collective, Chennai
44. Feminist Collective, Ashoka University
45. Women’s Development  Cell, LSR

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