The Madras High Court ruled on Wednesday that it is time for Tamil Nadu to take efforts to offer reservations for transgender people in local body elections as a humanitarian measure to engage them in mainstream society and to ensure their democratic participation.
“The Government of Tamil Nadu is directed to initiate all appropriate steps to grant reservations to transgender persons in the local body elections as an initial measure to bring the Transgender persons into the mainstream society,” Justice SM Subramaniam said in his orders while hearing a petition about transgender discrimination in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district.
By using the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994, the Justice further ordered the Cuddalore district collector to oust the president and members of the Nainarkuppam village panchayat for adopting a resolution in April calling for the district administration to revoke the village’s land allocation for transgender people.
The petitioner, who is also the head of the Nainarkuppam village panchayat in Cuddalore, had argued that granting patta to transgender people (transmen or transwomen) would lead to the “destruction of culture” in their community. On Wednesday, the court denied the requested relief.
“Social evil in any form is unconstitutional, and the resolution passed by a Village Panchayat unanimously cannot be taken in a lighter manner,” the court stated. “This particular culture treats them with contempt even if it believes they bring luck and seeks their blessings. This contradicting societal assumption is what makes society queer”.
The justice questioned how social injustice could have disappeared despite 76 years of Indian independence and a plethora of laws, speeches, publications, documents, and policies. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, was passed by the Indian government, giving the transgender population in India rights and protection.
The court stated that although Tamil Nadu has been a leader in putting welfare measures into place by enacting laws and policies to support the transgender population, the message is lost in the extensive organizational structure of the executive.
“The bottom rung of the executive structure, who are in direct contact with the members of the transgender community, fail to implement these welfare schemes in letter and spirit,” the court stated. “…The growth of our Great Nation will be hampered as long as the majoritarian segment of the society with its predetermined ideals continues to stigmatize and exclude a minority group solely on the basis of gender.”
The court said that gender is a self-identified component and that it is crucial to keep in mind that transgender people must be integrated into society’s mainstream activities and that, in order to do so, a change in mindset is necessary. The court stated that although “every single human being has their own likes and dislikes, it is vital to accept the differences within us when it comes to living in a society under the umbrella of togetherness.” “Every single live thing is a gift. Gifts can be wrapped in a variety of patterns, colors, and styles, and they often include a lot of surprises. Each of us experiences it in the same way. Only an empathic mind can comprehend the extent of the mental and social stresses this unique community of individuals faces. They have been shunned by this culture for many years. Social exclusion like this is the antithesis of humanism.”
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