Third gender still face discrimination in Karnataka


Vidhan Soudha, Bengaluru.

Karnataka government does not recognize transgender people as a third gender with rights equal to any other citizen of India, a recently released report found.

A report released in August 2015 by Ondede, an organization which works for transgender and sexual minorities’ right, has identified illegal police action against transgender persons in November 2014 in Karnataka. The action by police included illegal detention, malicious action and harassment.

“The action taken by the police in November 2014 was under the Karnataka Prevention of Beggary Act,” said Gowthaman Ranganathan of Alternative Law Forum (ALF). Gowthaman had compiled the report with Prerana Kodur.

One of the recommendations of the report was to repeal section 36A of the Karnataka Police Act 1963. This law was passed by the Karnataka assembly in the year2011.

The Karnataka Police Act 1963 (section 36A) allows the commissioner to issue orders to prevent, control of suppress “undesirable activities of eunuchs” residing within his jurisdiction. It also allows maintenance of a register of “eunuchs” who are suspected of kidnapping or emasculating boys or of committing or abetting unnatural offences.

“This section criminalizes transgenders. If the law is on the statutory book, it has to be repealed. This is an unwanted law,” said AkkaiPadmashil, who is a transgender and a founder of Ondede.

“The section has not been activated by a notification in a gazette by a commissioner,” said Gowthaman Ranganathan.

“It is in contravention of the National Legal Services Authority judgment and the provisions of our constitution. A challenge has been made to the Karnataka High Court and the same is pending,” said Gowthaman Ranganathan.

In 2012, the supreme court of India in the case of NALSA held that transgender persons be recognized as a third gender. The court also held that transgender persons will be entitled to the same fundamental rights as any other citizen. The Supreme Court interpreted that the constitution right to not face discrimination based on sex includes gender.

“We are placing the report in front of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority. We can see it as a tool and how we can educate the larger society. It has more to do with the social stigma that is associated with our community,” said Akkai Padmashil.

The United Nations Human rights declaration of 2011 reaffirmed that there should be no discrimination based on sex. India is a signatory to this resolution.

“Any kind of discrimination is illegal. It is disrespectful to the Constitution. It is disrespectful to the Supreme Court judgment,” said Akkai Padmashil.