NEW DELHI: Several members in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday sought review of a bill on protection of rights of transgenders and demanded that it be referred to a select parliamentary committee.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, which seeks to provide a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders, was moved for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha by Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.
As soon as he moved the bill, DMK leader Tiruchi Siva moved an amendment to the motion that it be sent to a select committee.
However, Gehlot said the bill deals with various aspects like definition (of transgender), medical insurance, (inclusion of them under) workers definition and their grievances redressal.
"So I ask Tiruchi Siva to discuss the bill and pass it," the minister submitted before the House seeking withdrawal of the amendment for sending the bill to the select committee.
The bill was passed by Lok Sabha in August.
Participating in the debate, TMC member Shanta Chhetri said the bill has far reaching consequences and hence it should be referred to the select committee.
Highlighting the shortcomings in the bill, she said it does not provide for guidelines for taking a decision for approving an application for gender determination or change by the district magistrate.
"This bill falls short of human right obligation. The haste with which the bill was passed in Lok Sabha is clearly evident. The bill is unclear on right of a transgender person on self-identity. It fails on the fundamental right to self-identity as laid down by Supreme Court," she said.
Chhetri was of the view that this bill would not provide full protection and rights to transgender and demanded that there should be national and state transgender commissions on the lines of women commissions.
Echoing a similar view, Congress member Rajeev Gowda also asked the minister to send the bill to select committee for review.
He stated the bill provides that transgender children should not be separated from their parents, which should be replaced by transgender persons.
He was of the view that when these children grow up, they will be thrown out of parents' home and will have no right over property.
Gowda also pointed out that there is no provision for dealing with discrimination with transgenders in the bill and placed an amendment to include a definition of 'discrimination with transgenders' in the bill.
He urged the government to send the bill to a select committee to iron out all issues related to it.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad suggested that a "law on the lines of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act be framed for transgenders through an amendment so that people who discriminate against them be subjected to provisions similar to those in the Prevention of Atrocities Act".
He was also of the opinion that the community be categorised to provide reservation in government jobs and called for permission to be granted to transgenders for sex selection a few years after they are born so as to prevent further harassment.
"I am a little amazed at the speed at which people are supporting sensitive bills here. I think we should be a little more sensitive. We should review them," Jaya Bachchan (SP) said.
She said there are a lot of technical points that have not been paid attention to.
Sasmit Patra (BJD) said there are areas and lacunae in the bill which need to be looked at.
Ram Chandra Prasad (JDU) supported the bill and said it was time the societal stigma associated with transgenders was eliminated.
Jharna Das Baidya (CPI-M) and Wansuk Syiem of the Congress also demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee.
Anil Agrawal (BJP) supported the bill and said there has already been a lot of delays and sending the bill to a select committee will further delay things.
He appealed to the members to pass the bill unanimously, suggesting that amendments can be introduced later as and when needed.
Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said there are certain provisions that need to be addressed and the bill has no provision for reservation for transgenders.
L Hanumanthaiah (Congress) also demanded that reservation be provided to transgender persons in jobs in the government as well as the private sector.
Observing that rape of a transgender currently attracts punishment of up to two years as against stringent provisions in place for the rape of women, he said, provisions of Article 376 should be invoked in cases of race of transgenders for higher punishment.
He said there was no urgency to pass the bill and suggested that it be sent to a Select Committee.
Vijila Sathanath (AIADMK), Ashok Bajpai (BJP) and Ramkumar Verma (BJP) also participated in the discussion.