Supreme Court recognises transgenders as ‘third gender’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday recognised the existence of a third gender that is neither male nor female, in a landmark judgement hailed by transgender people.

Transgenders attend a seminar for the transgender community in Mumbai. (AFP Photo)
A bench of justice KS Radhakrishnan and justice AK Sikri directed the government to take steps for granting recognition to transgenders as a separate third category of gender after male and female.

“Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue,” justice KS Radhakrishnan said while handing down the ruling.

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The apex court directed central and state governments to identify transgenders as a neutral third gender who should be granted access to the same welfare schemes as other minority groups in India.

“Transgenders are citizens of this country and are entitled to education and all other rights,” said Radhakrishnan who headed a two-judge bench on the case.

The bench also said they are the citizens of the country and have equal rights to education, healthcare and employment opportunities like other people belonging to the male and female gender.

The apex court expressed concern over transgenders being harassed and discriminated in the society and passed a slew of directions for their social welfare.

It said that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is being misused by police and other authorities against them and their social and economic condition is far from satisfactory.

The bench clarified that its verdict pertains only to eunuchs and not other sections of society like gay, lesbian and bisexuals who are also considered under the umbrella term “transgender”.

The bench said they are a part and parcel of the society and the government must take steps to bring them into the mainstream of society.

The apex court passed the order on a PIL filed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) urging the court to give separate identity to transgenders by recognising them as third category of gender.

The case was filed in 2012 by a group of petitioners including prominent eunuch and activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi seeking equal rights for the transgender population under the law.

“The progress of the country is dependent upon human rights of the people and we are very happy with the judgement as the Supreme court has given us those rights,” said Tripathi welcoming the Supreme Court decision.

Tripathi hailed the judgement, saying transgenders have long suffered from discrimination and ignorance in the traditionally conservative country.

“Today, for the first time I feel very proud to be an Indian,” Tripathi told reporters outside the SC in New Delhi.

“Today my sisters and I feel like real Indians and we feel so proud because of the rights granted to us by the Supreme Court.”

The decision comes after the same court last December reinstated a ban on gay sex, in a shock ruling that sparked accusations it was dragging the country back to the 19th century.

Gay sex had been effectively legalised in 2009 when the Delhi high court ruled that a section of the penal code prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” was an infringement of fundamental rights.

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  1. Every male has a female and female has a male feeling in their thoughts and don’t neglect their.they are also the our brothers and sisters.

  2. They are having strong history in our world.earliest in our culture they are the respectable persons.

  3. We are Indians. In out country, everything should be in a discipline manner. So we should refuse this order which is from supreme court.

  4. In mahabharath aravan is a chracter being the transgender.all the people are give respect to aravan.but nowadays they are not treated as man in the world.

  5. They are also our bhrath madha’s don’t neglect or avoid them.they need only true affection from us.

  6. I’m proud to be an Indian for approved transgenders in our india.still now they are treated as beggars in many must want to be change.

  7. I saw lot engineers as transgenders in bangalore and chennai.they live their life as very stylish and discipline.

  8. I met some transgender people in my life.they are very genuine people with others in our country.

  9. This is one of the best judgement by the supreme court for given the Authentication to transgender peoples in our society.

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