India: Enforce Ruling Protecting Transgender People

Published: February 5, 2015

Original Article:

Authorities in India should fully enforce a Supreme Court ruling to protect the rights of transgender people and help end discrimination, social exclusion, and abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. They should also credibly investigate several recent incidents in which police allegedly abused transgender people.

In April 2014, in a landmark judgment in National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India and Others, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that transgender people should be recognized as a third gender and not only enjoy all fundamental rights, but also receive special benefits in education and jobs.

“India’s Supreme Court last year finally recognized the rights of transgender people to vote, to get an education, or to find a job,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “Now it’s up to the authorities to enforce the ruling by prosecuting those that target transgender people, denying their right to live in dignity and without persecution.”

Nearly a year after the Supreme Court’s judgment, implementation has stalled, even as recent attacks on transgender communities highlight their vulnerability. In particular, section 377 of the Indian penal code, which criminalizes same-sex relations among consenting adults, has made both transgender people and homosexuals vulnerable to police harassment, extortion, and abuse.

The nongovernmental organization Telangana Hijra Transgender Samiti, based in the southern city of Hyderabad, reported 40 attacks on transgender people in the last six months. In several cases, the police refused to even register complaints, the rights group told Human Rights Watch.

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