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Supreme Court recognizes Third Sex: recommends access to schemes for minorities

 

Ardhanareeshwara; SC sees sense in hoary tradition

Ardhanareeshwara; SC sees sense in hoary tradition

New Delhi: 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. “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. The court directed state and federal 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 case was filed in 2012 by a group of petitioners including prominent transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi seeking equal rights for the transgender population under the law. Tripathi hailed the judgement, saying transgenders have long suffered discrimination and ignorance. “Today, for the first time I feel very proud to be an Indian,” Tripathi told reporters outside the court. The decision comes after the Supreme 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.

Hailing the judgment, another transgender person, Chandni, said, “It is wonderful to know that we would be getting equal opportunities and better job prospects. But, the question is how will people treat me? Will they ridicule me or will they make an effort to know and be friends with me?” This judgment has also given hope to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The verdict “is important on a global level and India is one of the few countries to give this landmark judgment.

 

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