Published: 23rd November 2019
Govt must protect our rights: Why the Namma Pride March will oppose the new Transgender Person’s Bill
The new bill states that the penalty for rape of people from LGBTQIA+ community will be only six months to two years
Karnataka's Queer Community is set to organise the 12th Namma Pride March on November 24, 2019. Dressed in colourful attires, showcasing the rainbow flags, the members of the queer community will be marching from Lokmanya Tilak Park to Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall in Bengaluru. This pride march is organised by the Coalition for Sex Workers, Sexual and Sexuality Minorities' Rights (CSMR). Many LGBTQIA+ organisations, activists, individuals across Karnataka are part of CSMR. Apart from creating awareness about the rights of their community, they will be protesting against the new Transgender Person’s (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 which is likely to be discussed in the Rajya Sabha on November 25, 2019. Like most of the bills which are passed in the parliament without any debates and discussions, this bill was also passed by the Lok Sabha on August 5th 2019. And the LGBTQIA+ community is not happy about it.
According to Ayaan Syed, who is part of CMSR, the new bill has failed to include principles including mandatory reservations in jobs, educational institutions, better treatments in hospitals etc. "More than anything else. we criticise the bill for including as the penalty for rape accused is only six months to two years whereas it is life imprisonment for raping a woman. At a time when the crimes against the transgenders are on the rise, the government must work to safeguard the community," he adds. "While the government thinks we are happy about this bill and states that they have included all the recommendations made in the interest of our community, it is not true. They have included only two provisions which are decriminalising begging and removing of the medical screening committees. We demand that the Transgender Person’s (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 be opposed in the Parliament and rewritten with extensive community consultation and keeping in mind the inalienable rights that all citizens of India are entitled under the Constitution."
When we asked Ayaan about the changes he has seen from the first Pride March held in 2008 till date, he says, "Nothing much has changed. In 2008, when the first pride march happened, there were around 80 people who went to create awareness and tell people that they exist in society. This time, there will be around 4,000 people who will participate in this march. In 2013, the Supreme Court had stated that the gay or transgender community does not have the rights to live and marrying the same sex was criminalised. Soon after this verdict was out, people started discriminating again, they would not provide homes for rent and ill-treated us. That's when we started doing a lot of workshops for everyone and sensitising them that there is nothing wrong if you are a gay or transgender. We would discuss the laws framed in the interest of our community etc. A few activists and people from our community had filed a petition regarding this in SC again and were successfully able to lift the ban on section 377. The ban on section 377 meant to allow the members of the community to live their life as they want to."
Apart from the protesting against the new bill, they will place certain demands to the state government
They demand that the state and central government implement the 2018 Navtej Singh Johar SC judgment and initiate sensitization programmes on gender and sexuality with immediate effect. Police, public services including hospitals, government offices, schools and colleges, banks should be prepared to understand the judgment and treat the community with the same respect and dignity as other citizens. Juvenile retention homes should be gender-neutral and sensitised. State and central welfare communities should be established for redressal and protection. Private sectors including corporations and businesses, private services, media, NGOs, mental health practitioners etc should conduct widespread sensitisation, open their doors and give them a rightful place in society.