Guest Post by SIDDHARTH NARRAIN
The Supreme Court, in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment delivered today has recognized the legal and constitutional rights of transgender persons, including the rights of the hijra community as a ‘third gender’. In judgment of immense breadth and vision, Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri have brought hope and a promise of citizenship to a community that has largely been outside the legal framework.
NALSA filed this petition in 2012. In 2013, this matter was tagged together with a petition filed in the Supreme Court by the Poojaya Mata Nasib Kaur Ji Women’s Welfare Society, an organization working for kinnars, a transgender community. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a well-known transgender rights activist from Mumbai also intervened in this case.
In this piece, I will point to the highlights of this judgment and why it will go down in history as one of the most rights enhancing decisions in the Court’s history. I cannot but remark on the irony of this judgment being delivered just a few months after Koushal, in which the Supreme Court recriminalized LGBT persons and upheld the constitutionality of section 377 of the IPC. The Court acknowledges this, but makes it clear that while it recognizes that section 377 is used to harass and discriminate against transgender persons, this judgment leaves Koushal undisturbed, and instead focuses specifically on the legal recognition of the transgender community.
Continue reading (En) Gendering a Rights Revolution: Siddharth Narrain
A guest post by Aman finds fault with the Supreme Court’s reasoning on equality
In Suresh Kumar Koushal and another v. Naz Foundation and others (Naz), the Supreme Court notes that, ‘It is relevant to mention here that the Section 377 IPC does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts which if committed would constitute an offence. Such a prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation.’ By concentrating on the acts and not people, it is perhaps tries to convince us (and perhaps itself) that this is not a debate about homosexuality. However, the short-sightedness of the Supreme Court in discounting how these ‘acts’ are so fundamentally connected to a group’s orientation/identity is clear; it does exactly what it says it’s not doing (i.e. criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation).
The text of section 377 is facially neutral and applies to all people but it is not very difficult to see that the provision impacts homosexuals. As mentioned earlier, the so called ‘unnatural acts’ are the only ways homosexuals can have sex. This obviously implies that it is the homosexuals who have to continue bearing the stigma of being a criminal. The symbolic effect of branding homosexuals as criminals was evinced by the Delhi High Court when it said that provisions like these add to the reasons for homosexuality being treated as bent, queer, repugnant, deviant and perverse, leading to further marginalisation of the homosexuals. What could have been an attempt by the Indian judiciary to bring down one of the obstructions for integration, has become an enforcement of a dominant notion of ‘natural’ sex which will naturally lead to concealment of true identity of many people who are anyway struggling in the society to prove that they are normal.
Continue reading Naz and Notional Equality: Aman