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Government unlikely to exempt transgenders from Sec 377 of IPC

By Deepika

Despite parliamentary recommendation, the government is unlikely to exempt transgenders from the ambit of the law criminalising homosexuality.

Image for representation only

In its report on Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill last month, the parliamentary standing committee on social justice and empowerment recommended the exclusion of transgenders from the penal provision that criminalised homosexuality.

"Transgender persons remain at the risk of criminalisation under Section 377. The bill must at the very least recognise the rights of transgender persons to partnership and marriage," it said.

As the legality of Section 377 of IPC, which makes homosexuality a crime, is pending before the Supreme Court the government will not choose the sensitive issue, reports ToI.

The law

Section 377 of IPC -- which came into force in 1862 -- defines unnatural offences. It says, "Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine."

The government is yet to take any major tinkering in the legislation in the wake of the committee's report.

However, the ministry for social justice and empowerment will soon hold consultations with the law ministry to take a call on the bill which is pending in Lok Sabha.

A hands-off approach on Section 377, even if on a demand for a minor exception to be made for transgenders, conforms to the views of the ruling saffron camp. The RSS-BJP combine is against the repeal of the controversial provision from the statute, reports ToI.

The SC is hearing curative petitions on an earlier judgement which restored Section 377 by overturning a Delhi HC order which had decriminalised the provision for consenting adults of the same sex.

The panel also recommended that transgenders be classified as OBCs. The governent is not against to such provision as it does not affect the existing backward communities.

In 2014, the SC had directed the government to recognize transgender as the "third gender" and classify them as OBCs eligible for reservations in jobs and education. While the bill is silent on this provision, the parliamentary panel recommended that the SC directive be followed.

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