Karnataka policy in place; transgenders weary of seeking legal help: Experts

At the recent Transform - 2nd International Conference on Transgender Rights and Law, experts spoke about the challenges faced by the community in Karnataka and their apprehension to approach the law

Published: 18th April 2018 04:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2018 04:48 AM   |  A+A-

Group shot from the conference; (below) Arvind Narrain, ARC International, (left) Jayna Kothari, High Court advocate

By Express News Service

BENGALURU : Jayna Kothari, a High Court advocate, says that though the Karnataka cabinet cleared the State Policy for Transgenders last year, many are unaware of it and are not coming forward to seek legal help in cases of discrimination or violence. The policy aims at bringing the community into the mainstream and safeguarding them from exploitation. She says, “This particular policy came into being just recently, and still needs to be enforced. The challenging part is educating the masses about it, so that people from the community can benefit from it.” According to her, the Karnataka government hasn’t dealt with many cases, as people from the community do not approach the court much. There have only been one or two cases from the community, and that too for ‘change of name in legal documents’. The cases that reach her are usually four to five people filing or seeking legal advice for either discrimination faced at the workplace, cases of domestic violence or changes in legal documents. 

Arvind Narrain from ARC International, which works for LGBT rights, adds as all the statutory laws and customary laws have recognised only male and female sexes, and are accordingly applied by both civil laws as well as penal laws - people belonging to the third sex find it difficult to fight a legal battle for their rights. “They face a lot of problems while changing their name in documents such as ration cards or date of birth certificates. After they identify themselves as transgender, it becomes difficult, as the law of India doesn’t yet recognise it to the fullest power,” he says.

The experts spoke about this and other issues faced by the trangenders at the conference, which was hosted by the Centre for Law and Policy Research. Jayna spoke about the Jacqueline Mary Vs superintendent of police (Madras High Court case) and the Faizan Siddiqui Vs Sashastra Seema BAL, May 2011 (Delhi High Court). Both the cases narrated the discrimination that was faced by these two petitioners, who seeked help from the High Court for being terminated from their military jobs, citing that medical reports declared them ‘unfit’ for duty. These two cases created a huge uproar about discrimination being faced by transgenders. 

When asked about reservations, Jayna strongly feels that there should be reservations in the educational and employment sector for  transgenders, so that their community is uplifted and they can get quality education and seeks jobs. The reservation needs to be a horizontal one and there should be a separate category. “This would ensure that they live a better life,” she says.

What does the policy ensure? 
The Karnataka cabinet, in October 2017, cleared the State Policy for Transgenders,  aimed at bringing the community into the mainstream of society and providing its members with a secured life.
The policy aims to create awareness about the transgender community in all the educational institutions of the state, reach out to the family members through anganwadi workers to sensitise them about trans-children, bring into place a monitoring committee or cell at the educational institutions to address the issues of discrimination, sexual abuse and violence against transgenders.

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