India: The Indian federal government has asked the Supreme Court to modify its landmark ruling that accepted transgender people as a socially and economically backward caste eligible to various affirmative action accorded to other marginalized sections of society.
The government also told the Supreme Court that gays, lesbians and bisexuals cannot all be clubbed as transgenders and that such a supposition had created confusion.
“Universally, the term LGBT is used for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. While it may be possible for some transgender persons to also be gay, lesbian or bisexual, that is only an individual’s sexual orientation and would not result in a lesbian, gay or bisexual by themselves per se becoming a transgender,” the government said Sept 10 in a letter requesting clarity from the court on the definition of ‘transgender,’ according to hindustantimes.com.
“Gay, lesbian and bisexual (persons) cannot obviously be included in the category of a gender or transgender. The concept of gay, lesbian and bisexual is based strictly on sexual orientation while the term ‘transgender’ has to do with the person’s own deep sense of gender identity,” the application stated.
The letter also told the court that not all transgender men and women could be s cannot be clubbed together as coming from a socially and economically backward castes many of them may by birth belong to higher castes and thus not eligible to various affirmative action accorded to other marginalized sections of society.
On A pril 15 Indian Supreme Court ruled that transgender people be recognized as the third sex, be accorded social acceptability and an equal standing under Indian law and directed that the government include them as a socially and economically backward caste.
Before that ruling transgender people were never assigned to any federal government department nor part of the welfare, economic, cultural or political decision process that every Indian should be part of. They were even barred from receiving driver licenses, national tax system registration and ration cards.
The government asked the court to modify its order because “Caste is determined by birth. It is an intricate question and clubbing them all as one category may pose problems both practically and politically.”
“They (transgenders) may be separated from their families and living in groups but that does not mean they have converted to other castes.”
Kranti, executive director of Human Rights Law Network said he was not happy with the government’s intervention. “Instead of understanding the spirit of the judgment and proposing reservation for transgenders, the government has indicated which way it wants to go as far as the rights of minorities are concerned.”
The Supreme Court had in April clarified that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that it recently upheld to criminalize same-sex relations as “unnatural” was not to be used against transgender men and women.