Transgender Gets Legal Status In India, But Gays and Lesbians Don’t

India has elementally redefined ‘Gender Recognition’ for its official purposes. Transgender now has been legally recognized as a third gender besides male and female. However, in a cruel twist of irony, gays, lesbians and bisexuals still do not have any recognition.

India’s Supreme Court has passed a landmark judgement officially giving recognition to transgenders as the third gender. Going a step further, the apex court has even asked the Centre and State Governments to treat them as ‘Socially’ and ‘Economically Backward’ Classes. As this is now as good as a law, transgenders will now be entitled to get reservations in jobs and education.

Transgender will have all legal rights & official recognition

A bench of Supreme Court Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri officially directed the government to begin initializing steps for granting legal recognition to transgenders as a separate and third category of gender after male and female. The court has also asked governmental departments to grant them all facilities including a voters ID, passport and driving license.

Earlier, such a demographic was forced to choose between Male or Female and needless to say, this selection was based on the anatomical features. Ironically, the new law strictly applies to eunuchs only. The bench clarified that its verdict pertains only to eunuchs and not to other sections of society like Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexuals (LGB) who are broadly considered under the same umbrella term ‘transgender’, reported India Today.

In fact India was quite famous (or infamous) for referring to everyone under the same LGBT category. But, this marks a clear demarcation between eunuchs (Transgender) and Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals. Apparently, the Supreme Court felt the need to clarify because section 377 of IPC was being misused or even abused by police and other authorities against transgenders and their social and economic conditions are said to be far from satisfactory. The apex court expressed deep concern over transgenders being continually harassed and heavily discriminated in the society and has attempted to pass a slew of directions for their social welfare, reported RT.

While it is indeed true that transgenders or eunuchs are generally treated with utter distaste or even feared throughout many Indian communities, offering legal recognition for them and yet considering other forms of sexuality illegal may not bode well with the growing LGB community who has been long fighting for legal recognition.

Demarcating genders based on anatomy may be legally right, but recognizing people for their orientation still has a long way to go in India. Has the country taken the right steps forward to be becoming a true democratic nation, by officially recognizing Transgender as the third gender?

[Images via Bing]