Rajya Sabha passes historic private Bill to promote transgender
The Indian Express,
April 25, 2015
A private member?s
Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha for the first time in over three
decades, with MPs cutting across party lines on Friday to
unanimously endorse by voice vote a proposed legislation that
aims to promote the rights of transgenders, including
reservations and financial aid.
However, the passage
was not without its share of turbulence with Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar
Chand Gehlot attempting to dissuade DMK MP Tiruchi Siva from
moving the Bill, saying that many issues were yet to be resolved
on the subject among various ministries.
But Siva rejected
Gehlot?s assurance that the government would come out with a
comprehensive Bill of its own in this regard and insisted on a
division of votes before Jaitley said that it would ?not be
proper? if the House is divided on the rights of transgenders.
?The House should
not be divided over such an issue. The honourable minister has
said that we (government) will bring a policy? (The Bill)
expresses the sentiment of the House. And the house by voice
vote will agree to the sentiment,? Jaitley said before the house
unanimously passed the Bill.
Earlier, BJP MPs
insisted that the Bill be withdrawn even as Gehlot said the
government was ?positive? that it would implement policies that
ensured the welfare of the transgender community.
Gehlot added that
while the government ?agrees (with the content of the Bill) on
an emotional? level, the matter involved some impracticalities
because of the involvement of a number of ministries, including
his own, and Health, HRD, Home Affairs and even External Affairs
which deals with passports of such individuals.
Minister of State
for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also asked Siva to
withdraw the Bill in light of the Minister?s promise. Deputy
Chairman of the House P J Kurian too repeatedly asked Siva if he
was withdrawing the Bill.
But Siva said gender
equality was gaining importance even in international law.
?Twenty-nine countries have legislation controlling the rights
of transgender persons,? he said.
Siva added that
while the number of transgenders in the country is 4.5 lakh as
per statistics, the actual number could be about 20-25 lakh.
Pointing out that
representatives of the community were sitting in the gallery of
the House, he argued that the transgenders have voting rights
but are allegedly even denied entry in trains.
He backed his
argument by saying that while the Parliament has passed 14
private members? Bills, the ones in Britain had passed 17 and
Renuka Chowdhury supported Siva, telling the treasury benches,
?Pass it? you will get the credit.?
While the initial
voice vote over the consideration of the Bill drew a strong ?no?
from government MPs, Jaitley intervened when Siva demanded a
division of votes. The mood of the House changed after Jaitley?s
address and the Bill was passed unanimously.
Later, Siva thanked
Jaitley for the ?timely intervention?.
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