Karnataka unveils transgender policy, sets 36-month deadline for execution

The Karnataka government on Thursday unveiled its policy on transgenders, proposing a slew of measures including a pitch for amending laws that they see as against their sexual freedom and reservation in educational institutions and jobs.

The Congress government led by chief minister Siddaramaiah set a deadline of 36 months for implementation of the policy across the state, where elections are expected in early 2018.

Announcing the policy after a cabinet meeting, state’s law and parliamentary affairs minister TB Jayachandra said the policy aimed at ensuring trans people “enjoy all constitutional rights and do not face discrimination”.

The policy proposes schemes such as self-employment grants, vocational training, free health insurance, and reservation in housing schemes. It has plans for counselling for parents and children, campaigns in the media and other forums to create awareness.

The policy also calls for amending section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with sexual assault because it does not include provision for treating trans people as victims.

The policy also assures that public opinion “will be built to strike down section 377” of the IPC. Section 377 of the IPC criminalises sex between consenting gay adults.

In education, the policy suggests reservations at all levels, removal of “positive reassertion of orthodox gender roles” from syllabus, a process to change name and gender in educational certificates, neutral uniforms for all students and common toilets in schools.

The policy also suggests free sex reassignment surgeries (SRS), apart from counselling and hormone therapy. It suggests SRS be included in medical education syllabus.

The policymakers have proposed establishing a cell under the women and child welfare department to oversee the implementation.

Gender activist Akkai Padmashali, who was a member of the team that drafted the policy which the government considered, said there were a few deviations but overall it was good.

“We had asked for transgenders to be classified as Backward Class but that has not been done,” said Padmashali. “Neither has the policy mentioned a separate commission that the draft has proposed.”

Implementing the policy will be the key and trans people have to get involved, according to Padmashali. “There should be political participation. The government should also ensure that there is proper implementation and not let this just be on paper.”

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