Comments on the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016

Submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on social justice and empowerment

Summary: Key recommendations including changing the definition of ‘transgender’, strengthening anti-discrimination provisions, crafting comprehensive welfare measures, making positive obligations time-bound and facilitating awareness and sensitisation about the concerns of transgender persons.

These comments were submitted in response to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016. These comments critically analyse the provisions of the Bill, providing a clause-by-clause assessment against the 2014 NALSA judgment, the recommendations of the 2014 Expert Committee on the Issues relating to Transgender Persons, earlier versions of the Bill in 2014 and 2015, as well as international rights documents and legislations in other jurisdictions. On the basis of this analysis, it is suggested that the Bill be redrafted to change the definition of ‘transgender’, use rights-based language, provide for reservations, clearly delineate obligations of different governments and relevant stakeholders, introduce an effective National Council and a powerful enforcement mechanism, and craft comprehensive welfare measures, including measures for creating awareness and sensitising stakeholders about concerns of transgender persons for creating awareness.

Additionally, it is suggested that the sections on anti-discrimination, and offences and penalties, be strengthened so that effective remedies are available wherever rights are violated. Further, the comments make a case that provisions on screening be carefully assessed, positive obligations be made time-bound, best practices from other jurisdictions be adopted, and redrafting be carried out in conjunction with extensive consultations.

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