The Government of Kerala published the State policy for transgender persons in Kerala in 2015. The policy aims to enforce the constitutional rights of transgender persons as mandated by the Supreme Court in NALSA v. Union of India. The policy recognises that transgender persons are facing injustice at several places including their own homes. It notes that the core issue faced by the transgender persons is exclusion from the socio-economic and political spectrum. Reforming this issue will remove the stigma and discrimination faced by transgender persons.
The policy acknowledges the important documents on transgender issues such as the Constitution of India, 1950, NALSA v. Union of India and the Report of the Expert Committee constituted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2013. Further, it referred to the Social Justice Department’s empirical study in Kerala to understand the life of transgender persons.
The objective of the policy is to attain a just society where transgender persons have equal rights to:
- Access development opportunities, resources and benefits
- Freedom of expression
- Live with dignity and enjoy life free from violence
- Equal participation in key development decisions influencing their life and liberty
The policy identifies the responsible authorities and formulates a detailed strategy to achieve its objectives. To achieve the right to equality, the policy recommends the constitution of a Transgender Justice Board. The Board will ensure that all government authorities do not discriminate against transgender persons. Likewise, it recommends that service providing entities include ‘third gender’ in all application forms. They must also ensure equal access to all the services such as education, health, public transport and social security.
To achieve the right to freedom of expression, it suggests that the law department, police and judiciary raise awareness of their employees to address the stigma and harassment faced by transgender persons. It also recommends that the Department of Culture and Department of Tourism encourage artistic skills of transgender persons by facilitating participation in festivals.
The policy recommends that all departments provide access to employment, education and healthcare to secure the right to access development opportunities . It states that the Department of Labour and Department of Industries should facilitate self-employment of transgender persons, sensitize employers and employees on transgender issues at the workplace. Likewise, it recommends that the Department of General Education and Higher Education should ensure that educational institutions frame a transgender policy. Further, it provides that the Department of Health and Department of Social Justice should include transgender persons under healthcare and insurance schemes. Other significant recommendations include providing proper counseling, funds to undergo sex reassignment surgery and separate HIV sero-surveillance centres to address sexual health issues.
The Transgender Justice Board, Law Department, police and other government departments have been identified to help secure right to live with dignity and free from violence. It recommends that these authorities fulfill the statutory requirements necessary to protect transgender persons’ rights. Significant recommendations include establishing a helpline and crisis management centre, recording and compiling statistics of crime against transgenders, and providing free legal aid to redress discrimination and violence. It further recommends recognising the right to marriage, partnership and parenting.
To achieve the right to equal participation, it recommends that the Department of Social Justice and local self- government establish shelter homes, provide housing schemes, monthly pension schemes and day care centres for elders. Further, the Department of Food and Civil Supplies are to issue Below Poverty Line ration cards under Public Distribution System to provide food at free or subsidised cost. It also recommends that other departments allocate funds to address transgender issues and support organisations working for their development.
The policy identifies the actors involved in implementation and provides them with a detailed plan of action. Further it proposes that the State Government establish a State Transgender Welfare Board and District Transgender Justice Committees. It also details the functions of this Board and Committee. The suggested structure enables coordination between different government departments to address the issues faced by the transgender community. It also provides that the Board should include members from the transgender community to ensure their participation in decision making.
Above all, the policy highlights the state government’s priority to monitor and review the implementation of the policy. It lays down an elaborate framework to evaluate outcomes and policy results.
READ THE FULL POLICY HERE