Transgenders welcome Supreme Court’s decision to provide them legal recognition.
In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court has recognised transgenders as third sex and has granted them equal rights to social acceptability. The apex court said that the community was socially and economically backward. Transgenders have been sidelined by the mainstream society as they were subject to harassment and discrimination.
The SC bench comprising of Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice AK Sikri directed the governments both at Centre and state level to provide medical and education facilities and introduce welfare schemes for the transgenders. It said that the transgenders are citizens of the country and have equal rights to education, employment and social acceptability. The court said that the status of the transgenders has degenerated and the time had come for their status to be brought at par with the status of the male and the female.
“Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue,” the court said yesterday.
Welcoming the Supreme Court decision, Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, transgender rights activist said, “The progress of the country is dependent upon human rights of the people and we are very happy with the judgment as the Supreme Court has given us those rights.”
Reacting to the development, Shaila Jaan, a transgender said, “The judgment is good in terms of recognising us as the third gender, but the discrimination will continue in (the society).”
“We are happy with the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court. Finally, justice has been done to us and we will gain acceptance from the society” said Salma Khan.
“People remain hostile towards transgenders and always harass them. I would like to thank the media and NGOs for highlighting this issue. However, a lot of work needs to be done to end the discrimantion against our community” said Revathi.
The Supreme Court has asked the government to make sure that transgenders get job quotas and facilities including a voter card, passport and driving licence.
The SC said absence of law recognizing hijras as third gender could not be continued as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and employment.
This is for the first time that the third gender has got a formal recognition. The third gender people will be considered as OBCs, the SC said.
Earlier, the SC on 29th October, 2013 had reserved its judgment on the question of recognition of identity of transgender persons in India.
The SC said the states must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues. The bench said they are part and parcel of the society and the government must take steps to bring them in the main stream of society. The SC also added that if a person surgically changes his/her sex, then he or she is entitled to her changed sex and can not be discriminated.
The Division Bench was hearing a public interest litigation, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 400 of 2012] filed in October, 2012.