Karnataka state cabinet on Thursday approved a policy to safeguard transgender individuals from social, sexual exploitation, and integrate them into mainstream of the society. The policy aims to remove the stigma attached to the transgender community, and allow them to be an equal participant in the society, by providing them legal protection.
In pursuance of the aim, sensitisation of the general public through awareness programmes, as well as at the classroom-level by way of a reformed curriculum, will be implemented. The policy also entails provision of reservation to transgender individuals in all levels of education, and setting up of redressal cells for cases of harassment and discrimination of the individuals.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state will roll out the policy within 36 months. As per India census, 2011, the population of transgenders is 4,87,803, of which 20,266 reside in Karnataka. In 2015, the Supreme Court recognised transgender as a third gender.
At the national level, a parliamentary panel in its report on the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, in July suggested the exemption of transgender community from criminalisation under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes sex or marriage with persons of the same gender punishable by law, which conflicts with the sexual practices of transgenders.
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 seeks to bring social, educational and economic empowerment to the transgender community. The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, and is pending for approval in Lok Sabha since August, 2016. The bill however, suffers with loopholes as pointed out by trans activists and several others.