Transgenders Sign Up for Voting in a Big Way
By Sharadha Kalyanam | Published: 22nd March 2014 08:43 AM |
As many as 3,233 people from the transgender community have signed up to exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka. This is an increase of around 10.5 per cent from last year’s number of 2,919.
Activists attribute the increase to the state government’s progressive acceptance of the transgender community. However, the state has a long way to go as only a tenth of the community has managed to get their names on the electoral rolls as of January 31.
“Karnataka has more than 70,000 gender minority members, including hijras, kothis, jogappas and mangalamukhis. Only around 10 per cent have voter IDs. Government officials continue to be shy even to use the word transgender,” said Akkai Padmashali, member of Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer’s website, the state has 4.46 crore voters, of which transgenders constitute less than 1 per cent. While the government has been open to issues faced by the LGBT community, allotting voter cards doesn’t solve all problems, Akkai said.
It is thanks to advocacy by NGOs that gender minorities have reached this far. Akkai said this has put more responsibility on the government.”
Within the state, 12 per cent of transgender voters come from Bangalore Urban district. As of now, no transgender candidate has filed nominations to contest the election. Two transgenders Soumya and Chandini had contested from Narasimharaja and Gandhinagar constituencies in last year’s Assembly elections.
Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said, “We have taken our EPIC drives seriously. This may have resulted in more people from ‘others’ category registering themselves.”