Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice, a Chennai-based NGO that works on rights of persons with disabilities and intersectional issues, has provided comments on Rights of Transgender Persons Bill (2015) drafted by India’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Equals draws attention to language used in the Transgender Rights Bill that borrows from the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2013, also drafted by MSJE. This includes ‘Guiding principles’ and concepts such as ‘inclusive education’, ‘reasonable accommodation’, and ‘barriers’ etc.
Key comments include:
- The need to formulate a definition of abuse that considers specific ways in which trans* people are affected, such as asking individuals to disrobe to ‘prove’ their gender.
- Limitations in the concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ that can lead to a denial of rights such as the lack of basic provisions for gender-specific restrooms for transgender people to access as per their/our choosing.
- The need to define criminal offence categories that will cover crimes of a sexual nature committed against trans* persons
- The need for accessible information and support to enable transgender persons living with disability to exercise their right to self-determination of gender identity.
Besides these and other comments, Equals underscores the need for MSJE to engage in consultation with transgender groups around such critical issues as what constitutes abuse in a trans-specific context, what inalienable rights mean for trans* persons, how to incorporate these in the law, what provisions are required to enable the right to live in the community, what vulnerabilities threaten mental and physical integrity of transgender persons, and what schemes are required for the communities.
View the letter from Equals here
Thanks to Amba Salelkar and Equals for their important allyship, and for permission to include this letter in the Orinam collection.