BJP Objects to Equality for Third Gender
The BJP is starting to undo the equality that was barely achieved for the substantial portion of the Indian population that identifies with the third gender. In April, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the third gender would be recognized by the government. Although this didn’t do much to tackle the day to day discrimination that transgenders face in India, it certainly was a step towards institutionalizing equality.
The BJP, who recently gained control of the Indian government in the last election, has filed an objection against the ruling. They claim that there will be both political and practical problems associated with creating a third category.
One complaint they had was that transgender could apply to gay, lesbian, or bisexual populations creating ambiguity. There was no explanation as to why ambiguity with regards to gender was significant or a problem.
The second complaint was that it was wrong to add them to the backwards classes, which makes them eligible for affirmative action. The Wall Street Journal spoke to both sides of the issue:
“The government is stonewalling,” said Colin Gonsalves, a Supreme Court lawyer and founder of the Delhi-based Human Rights Law Network. “They had no intention of implementing this judgment.”
Mukul Rohatgi, India’s attorney general, said the government is not trying to block the judgment. “We just want clarification,” he said. He said it is the government’s view that transgender people should not be included in the backward-class category.
Some think that the objection comes from the BJP’s conservative Hindu ideology, however, Hijras (transgenders) are considered divine in Hinduism.
It will be important to see if the court stands by its decision, or like its ruling on homosexual sex, it succumbs to bigots who don’t understand the importance of equality.
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