New Delhi: Rajya Sabha members from across the political spectrum joined hands on Friday to ask the government to take steps to bring the transgender community, facing social stigma and ostracism, into the mainstream.
Participating in a debate on DMK member Tiruchi Siva's 'The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2014', the members demanded equal rights to the community which has been historically subjected to severe discrimination.
The private member' bill provides for the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive national policy to ensure overall development and welfare of transgenders by the State.
"Government must own this bill and pass a sensitive legislation for transgenders, whom people push away. It will give credit to new government. They have the same rights as you and me," said Congress member M S Gill.
D P Tripathi (NCP) echoed Gill saying "the litmus test of any democracy is its treatment to the minorities... Transgenders are treated as despicable." He also demanded a national policy for them saying literacy and employment rates among such people was very low.
Vivek Gupta (Trinamool) said the community, despite a population of over two million, was discriminated against in "every walk of life" and sought the government's intervention.
Gupta said it was unfortunate that the first passport was issued to a member of the transgender community only this year. When Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien wanted to know the reason for it, he said "only the government can answer this."
A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) said Tamil Nadu government has done pioneering work for them which should be replicated in other states. Besides forming self-help groups, the state government was giving them a pension of Rs 1,000 a month.
Baishnab Parida (BJD) said it was high time that justice is delivered to them and added that it was the British who branded them as criminals.
P Rajeeve (CPI-M) stressed the need for making a column mandatory in all applications for transgenders, while D Bandopadhyay (Trinamool) demanded a law to cover the whole gamut of welfare activities for them.
Mansukh Lal Mandavia (BJP) and Chaudhary Munnaver Saleem (SP) were of the view that immediate steps be taken to provide them social security.
MP Achuthan (CPI) said a reason for the community being marginalised was that political parties never considered them their vote banks, given their small number, while Anu Aga (Nominated) said there was need to introduce issues about the community in school curriculum to sensitise children.