New Delhi | Government today said it is planning to bring a policy for transgenders to ensure they get benefits akin reserved communities like SC/STs and is taking steps to see that they get enrolment in schools and jobs in government besides protection from sexual harassment.
Replying to a private member bill in Rajya Sabha, Social Justice Minister Thawaar Chand Gehlot said the government is awaiting better clarity on the definition of transgenders from the Supreme Court to extend welfare schemes for them.
We have sought clarity on the definition of transgender, homosexuals and bisexuals. There was a problem in the definition. Now, we have placed petition before the Supreme Court seeking clarity on this, he said.
Talking about the bill moved by DMK member Tiruchi Siva, he said the issues raised in it are already covered in the report submitted by an expert committee on this issue.
Based on the report, we have prepared an action plan. An inter-ministerial panel has been constituted to look into the issue, he said.
He said the government is planning to come out with a national policy for transgenders to ensure they get benefits akin reserved communities like SC/STs. A national welfare board will also be established.
Asking other ministries not to neglect transgenders under various schemes, he said he has written to the HRD ministry to ensure transgender students are enrolled in central schools.
Concerned over sexual atrocities on transgenders, he said the ministry is in discussion with the Home Ministry to look at comprehensive changes in the law for their protection.
Labour Ministry has been approached to provide skill training, while External Affairs Ministry is sorting out hurdles faced by the community in getting passports, he said.
Ministry of Personnel is also looking into the recruitment aspects of transgenders, he said.
The Centre has also asked state governments to bring third gender option in all documents, he added.
The Social Justice Minister said Tamil Nadu has done the best work for the welfare of transgenders in the country and other states like Sikkim, Delhi, Odisha, Kerala are also taking effective steps to bring them into the mainstream.
Citing an example on how bringing all trangenders under other backward classes (OBC) categories has created contradictions in some cases, he said, If a transgender was born in scheduled caste (SC), where should that person be placed? We thought it is better to get clarity on this.
The minister said the existing definition of transgender cannot be changed unless there is clarification from the Supreme Court.
On Minister’s reply, Siva said, We don’t want plans. We want legal rights in place for this community. A transgender gets a voter card as female but they are thrown out of ladies compartment in trains and not allowed in toilets. They need to be protected.
Around 20 members cutting across the parties including BJP, Congress, CPI, CPI-M, BJD and SP participated in the debate expressing concern over the plight of this community.