‘Release members of Transgender community immediately’

Bangalore (26 Nov/ Press Note): Over two days until the afternoon of 26 November 2014, at least 167 members of the transgender community were taken away by the Bangalore police and kept at the Beggar’s home. These detentions have been entirely arbitrary, and more is coming. These mass detentions constitute massive violations of human rights.

Most detainess were not on the streets begging or doing anything prohibited under the Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act, 1975. Most of them were going about their daily chores when they were arbitrarily picked up. The police even walked into homes and dragged them into the waiting vans. Even those who went to the police station because they were called by other arrested members of the transgender community were arrested. Clearly the police objective was not merely to pick up those who were “begging” but in effect everyone who answered to the description of “hijra”.

Transgender Protest_Banglaore

The action followed an unfortunate tirade by a High Court Order: HC wants a beggar-free city

The Supreme Court of India in National Legal Services Authority v Union of India has upheld the rights of the transgender community: “… discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity includes any discrimination, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has the effect of nullifying or transposing equality by the law or the equal protection of laws guaranteed under our Constitution, and hence we are inclined to give various directions to safeguard the constitutional rights of the members of the TG community. Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as ‘third gender’ for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament and the State Legislature.”

Following this, the Karnataka state government has formulated a policy stating, “steps to create public awareness should be taken so that TGs feel that they are also part of the society, regain their respect and are not to be treated as untouchables. The solution to their problems requires concerted efforts to mainstream them and adoption of an inclusive approach in all spheres of life.” It goes on to provide for a range of measures to create an enabling environment for the transgender community, including protection from harassment and abuse at multiple levels. The arbitrary mass detention of members of the transgender community is in violation of the Supreme Court and Karnataka state government policy.

The State Government should immediately:

  1. Direct the release of the members of transgender community immediately;
  2. Direct that there be no further detention of members of the transgender community;
  3. Initiate departmental inquiry into this arbitrary detention by police officers under whose direction the purge of hijras from the city was carried out.
  4. Compensate for the wrongful arrest and consequent mental trauma suffered by those arrested.