Main | Tuesday, April 15, 2014

INDIA: Supreme Court Recognizes Trans People As Third Gender

In what is being hailed as a landmark ruling, today the Indian Supreme Court recognized transgender people as a third gender. Via the BBC:
"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," it said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female. It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities. According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people. In India, a common term used to describe transgender people, transsexuals, cross-dressers, eunuchs and transvestites is hijra. Campaigners say they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracised because of their gender identity. Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution. Rights groups say they often face huge discrimination and that sometimes hospitals refuse to admit them. They have been forced to choose either male or female as their gender in most public spheres.
The BBC notes that India is the third nation to recognize a third gender. Nepal did so in 2009 and Bangladesh followed last year. The Times Of India has more on today's news:
The apex court also said states and the Centre will devise social welfare schemes for third gender community and run a public awareness campaign to erase social stigma. The SC said the states must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues. 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 apex court expressed concern over transgenders being harasssed and discriminated in the society and passed a slew of directions for their social welfare. The apex court said that trangenders were respected earlier in the society but situation has changed and they now face discrimination and harassment. It said that section 377 of IPC is being misused by police and other authorities against them and their social and economic condition is far from satisfactory.

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