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Why Shashi Tharoor Feels the Transgender Bill is Regressive and Should be Withdrawn Immediately

On Wednesday, Shashi Tharoor wrote a letter to the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot urging him to withdraw the Transgender Bill. In the letter he listed the Bill's "major pitfalls".

Angana Chakrabarti | News18.com

Updated:December 20, 2018, 1:15 PM IST
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Why Shashi Tharoor Feels the Transgender Bill is Regressive and Should be Withdrawn Immediately
The Congress leader had also expressed opposition to the Bill in a speech to the Lok Sabha members.
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New Delhi: On Wednesday, Shashi Tharoor wrote a letter to the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot urging him to withdraw the Transgender Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

In the letter, Tharoor lists what he considers as “major pitfalls” in the Bill. It starts with the very definition of a transgender person as a someone who is “neither wholly female nor wholly male” or a “combination of female or male”. “The present definition in the Bill fails to reflect this fundamental understanding of gender,” he argued in the letter.



The Lok Sabha MP also called attention to a provision of the Bill that aims to constitute a ‘District Screening Committee’ to determine whether a person is transgender. “Clearly the fundamental right to self-determination of gender cannot be restricted through a statutory committee,” Tharoor wrote.

The Congress leader also criticised the government for ignoring the recommendations that were made to the 2016 Bill after a Standing Committee on Social Justice & Empowerment held extensive deliberations with various human rights organisations and transgender activists.

Meanwhile, transgender communities and civil rights groups across the country held protests in the past week following the Lok Sabha session. In a press conference held on Tuesday in Delhi several members of the transgender community and rights organization criticized the bill for being violative and unconstitutional.

"We had no information about what is being presented in the Parliament. Hardly any transpersons were consulted and most of our recommendations were not incorporated," said Anindya Hajra of the Pratyay Gender Trust on Tuesday .

The activists also pointed out that the Transgender Bill does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transpersons as according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman. In terms of protection, the Bill offers a measly six months to two years imprisonment for those found guilty of atrocities against transpersons as mentioned in the Bill.

Many from the community have come forward through social as well as legacy media to speak against the sudden passing of the bill. According to many transpersons, instead of empowering the community, the Bill is set to further weaken their position in the country and reinforce the atrocities and prejudices against transpersons.
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