Amid the clamor over the Rafale deal controversy and Cauvery issue, the Lok Sabha on December 17, passed a bill seeking to empower the transgender community by providing them with an individual identity.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, seeking to define transgenders and prohibit discrimination against them, was introduced in the Lok Sabha two years ago. It was passed with 27 amendments. Amid din, five members, including Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (All India Trinamool Congress) and Badaruddoza Khan (CPI-M), participated in the debate, questioning the provisions of the legislation. The amendments moved by the government, along with some others moved by opposition members, were considered.
Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government was ready was any kind of discussion. Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said that the bill was sent to the standing committee and the government has accepted 27 amendments.
Earlier, seeking passage of the bill, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said that there was no need for further discussions as the bill was complete.
He further said that the bill encompassed a few objectives-
"A long discussion has taken place on this issue. It has also gone to the parliamentary standing committee. We have included several of their suggestions," the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister said.
Leader's question the bill
The leaders discussed the 'hastiness' of the passing of the bill, drew objections and raised certain arguments pertaining to the 'flaws' in the bill-
TMC’s Dastidar said the bill was hastily drafted and the different clauses mentioned in it were totally inconclusive. "First we have to define what transgender means...This bill has to be returned," she said, adding that a properly drafted bill had to be tabled. In the midst of the uproar, Parliamentary Affairs
Debating on the bill, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the bill was “flawed” and that it should be withdrawn.
"Defer consideration of the bill as it needs serious discussion. I request the minister to withdraw the bill. We need to recognise transgenders' identity" as it goes beyond male and female, Tharoor said, adding the government has "blindly" borrowed the definition of transgenders.
"The bill also fails to define discrimination against transgenders," and there is a need to redraft certain clauses, he added,
BJD party leader, B Mahtab emphasized the lack of clarity on the term "self-perceived gender identity" and "how it will be enforced".
He further pointed out that the definition of transgenders was incomplete and the terms 'trans-men' and 'trans-women' are not defined. Mahtab said that there were several laws in the country and it was not clear how these laws including the Companies Act would be applied to transgenders.
"Adequate attention has not been given in drafting this bill," he maintained, adding the government itself has moved
27 amendments. Supriya Sule (NCP) said a transgender commission at the national level was not enough. "We are asking for a welfare board for transgenders. They need equal rights," she said, demanding a helpline number for the community.
(with inputs from PTI)