India, transgender, Supreme Court, LGBT, Bismillah Geelani

The Supreme Court verdict to recognize transgender people came in response to Public Interest Litigation. 

The petition was filed by the National Legal Services Authority – a government organization that provides free legal assistance to the poor. 

Advocate Sanjeev Bhatnagar represents the group.

“It is a great verdict the Supreme Court has delivered today. It recognizes the eunuch community as the third gender which means that we will now have a third category of sex apart from the usual male and female.”

After the verdict, all the official documents will now have a separate option for transgender people – as distinct to men and women. 

Transgender activist Lakshmi Tripathi has been closely watching the case and is visibly happy after hearing the judgment.

“The progress and development of a country is reflected by the state of human rights in it and today while granting us the status of third gender the Supreme Court has given us our rights. For the first time in life I’m feeling proud to be an Indian.”

The court has directed the government to ensure the estimated 3-million transgender people get equal rights and protection. 

The judges also ordered the authorities to run public awareness programs to end the stigma against the community. 

Laya Vasudevan is from the Centre for Legal Aid and Rights. 

She says the judgment will go a long way in bringing the transgender community into the national mainstream.

“This is critical for a community that has been marginalized for decades if not much longer. What is going to happen in the future is that we hope the communities will rally together and understand that constitutional rights belong to everybody and when it says “we the people” they are included in that we the people and they are as much citizens as the next citizen of the country.”

The Supreme Court has made it clear that the ruling applies only to transgender people. 

But other groups like lesbians, gays and bisexuals have also equally celebrated it.

The Court banned gay sex last year overturning an earlier judgment legalizing it.

But members of the LGBT community like filmmaker Rose Venkateshan are confident that their campaign will force the Court to rethink its position on the issue.

“We as a community are willing to go any length, depth and height to ensure that these verdicts are not just on paper but are actually implemented. The LGBT community in India has come together, mobilized itself strongly into a large force to reckon with, so you cannot expect the LGBT community to stay silent about its denial of rights, suppression of identity and defaming of its sexuality.”

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