Why Modi Govt objects to SC ruling on Transgender rights: Explained

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Supreme Court created third gender status for hijras
The Supreme Court's landmark judgment recognizing transgender persons as a "third gender" has come under a cloud. This after an application filed by the Modi Government challenging the landmark verdict in April this year.

What was Supreme Court's verdict?

  • The Supreme Court created the "third gender" status for hijras or transgenders on 15 April, 2014. Earlier, they were forced to write male or female against their gender.
  • SC asked the Centre to treat transgender as socially and economically backward. It said they will be termed as OBCs.
  • SC said they will be given educational and employment reservation as OBCs.
  • It said States and Centre will devise social welfare schemes for third gender community and run a public awareness campaign to erase social stigma.
  • The SC asked the States must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues.
  • The verdict pertains only to eunuchs and not other sections of society like gay, lesbian and bisexuals who are also considered under the umbrella term 'transgender'.

What is Modi Government's stand?

  • The Modi Government has challenged apex court's 15 April judgment. 
  • Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, has said that it isn't feasible to group transgenders with OBCs.
  • He said some of the transgenders might already be from backward classes.
  • Rohatgi said it would be difficult to classify them as OBCs on the basis of their gender identity.
  • The Government also said that the community can only be listed as backward if the National Commission for Backward Classes, a statutory body under India's Social Justice Ministry, deemed it so.
  • Centre said the court's finding that the term transgender people can also apply to gay, lesbian and bisexual Indians, "seeks to create an ambiguity."

Data on 'Third Gender'

  • The official count of the third gender in the country is 4.9 lakh. 
  • Of the total number of transgenders, almost 55,000 are in the 0-6 population. 
  • Over 66% of the population identified as third gender lived in rural areas.
  • The level of literacy is very low in the community, just 46%, compared to 74% literacy in the general population.
  • The highest proportion of the third gender population, about 28%, is identified in Uttar Pradesh followed by 9% in Andhra Pradesh, 8% each in Maharashtra and Bihar.
  • Those working in the community is also low (38%) compared to 46% in the general population.
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