The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 which provides for a mechanism for their social, economic and educational empowerment.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, modelled on the private members' bill moved by Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva and passed by the Rajya Sabha on 24 April, puts in place provisions for stringent punishment, including imprisonment up to two years, for offences against them.
Once the new law comes into force after it gets assent of the Rajya Sabha as well, forcing a transgender to leave a place of residence, forcibly removing their clothes and parading them naked, or inciting them to beg or do similar forms of bonded labour, will be treated as atrocities and violence against them. These acts will be punishable with imprisonment up to two years, along with a fine.
A draft cabinet note on the 'Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016' circulated by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry among all ministries on 23 March had proposed imprisonment of at least six months - and not more than two years - along with a penalty for people found guilty of compelling a transgender person to beg, denying them access to a public place, forcing or causing a transgender person to leave his / her house or village, and harming or injuring their physical or mental well-being.
The draft bill included a chapter detailing a series of offences that will be treated as atrocity and violence against transgenders.
The draft bill also said that transgenders who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared members of the Backward Classes, and would be entitled to reservation under the existing ceiling for OBCs.
The new law also proposes to create a National Council of Transgender Persons and start schemes to provide them scholarships, textbooks and hostel accommodation. It calls for necessary amendments in the Indian Penal Code to cover cases of sexual offence against transgender persons.
Transgender community is among one of the most marginalised communities in the country because they don't fit into the stereotypical categories of gender of 'men' or 'women'. Consequently they face problems ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, lack of medical facilities and so on.
The bill will make all the stakeholders responsive and accountable for upholding the principles underlying the bill. It will bring greater accountability on the part of the central and slate governments/union territory administrations for issues concerning transgender persons.