युक्ती हीने विचारे तु धर्महानि प्रजायते

Report of Legal Awareness Camp

LEGAL AWARENESS CAMP

Organized by Pro Bono Club, WBNUJS

Kolkata

Date: March 24, 2024

Location: Dum Dum, Kolkata

Topic: Transgender Persons and their Rights

PRIMARY PURPOSE BEHIND THE LEGAL AID DRIVE

The legal awareness drive was by the Pro-Bono Club of WBNUJS in collaboration with Kolkata Anandam for Equality and Justice (KAEJ) who facilitated the attendance of stakeholders. The drive was mainly an informational and outreach effort, in order to raise awareness among the transgender community about the rights that they are espoused with consequent to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 as well as several other judicial pronouncements like NLSA vs. Union of India, Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India and Supriyo vs. Union of India.

PRIMARY POINTS COVERED IN THE DRIVE

The drive mainly consisted of a talk on the several rights that the transgender community have, with the following points taken from the Act as well as judicial pronouncements being discussed-

  1. No discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity:

   Discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is a violation of their fundamental human rights. It undermines their dignity and autonomy. Laws and policies should explicitly prohibit discrimination on these grounds, ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This principle is increasingly recognized globally, with many countries enacting legislation to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

  1. Stop all hospitals which offer “treatment” to cure gender identity:

   Medical practices aimed at “curing” or altering a person’s gender identity are widely condemned by medical professionals and human rights organizations. Such practices, often referred to as “conversion therapy,” have been debunked as ineffective, harmful, and unethical. Therefore, it’s crucial to prohibit hospitals and healthcare providers from offering or promoting such treatments to prevent further harm to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

  1. Police cannot harass a couple and question them on their gender identity or subject them to violence and separate them:

   Individuals have the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination, and protection from violence under various legal frameworks. Police harassment based on gender identity violates these rights. Article 19(1)(e) guarantees the right to residence and the right to reside with anyone, which should not be arbitrarily infringed upon by law enforcement agencies.

  1. No forced hormone therapy or conversions:

   Forced medical interventions, including hormone therapy or surgeries aimed at changing an individual’s gender identity, are clear violations of bodily autonomy and medical ethics. Individuals should have the right to make informed decisions about their healthcare without coercion or pressure from external parties.

  1. No forcible reuniting or contact with family by police or other State authorities:

   State authorities should not forcibly reunite transgender individuals with their families if doing so would put them at risk of harm or discrimination. Such actions can further endanger the individual’s well-being and violate their right to autonomy and safety.

  1. The SC and HC can be moved under writ jurisdiction to enforce Section 3 of the Transgender Protection Act:

   Writ jurisdiction allows individuals to petition the courts to enforce their fundamental rights. Section 3 of the Transgender Protection Act aims to prevent discrimination and unfair treatment against transgender individuals in various aspects of life. Seeking relief through the judiciary ensures that these legal protections are effectively enforced and upheld.

  1. Forced surgery of trans and intersex infants (or adults) for sexual affirmation or reconstruction is forbidden:

   Surgically altering the bodies of transgender and intersex individuals without their consent is a gross violation of their bodily integrity and human rights. Such practices are often performed without medical necessity and can cause lasting physical and psychological harm. It’s imperative to prohibit forced surgeries and ensure that all medical interventions are carried out with the individual’s informed consent and best interests in mind.

  1. The State must ensure appropriate and adequate documentation for all transgender persons:

   Access to accurate and affirming identity documents is essential for transgender individuals to fully participate in society and access services such as healthcare, education, employment, and legal recognition. The state has a responsibility to establish procedures that allow transgender individuals to obtain identity documents that reflect their gender identity accurately and without discrimination.

  1. The State has a duty to enact suitable anti-discrimination measures and welfare schemes to protect transgender persons from discrimination and ensure their physical and mental well-being:

   Legislative measures and welfare schemes are necessary to address systemic discrimination and inequalities faced by transgender individuals. The state has a legal duty to implement policies that protect the rights and promote the well-being of transgender individuals, including measures to combat discrimination, provide access to healthcare and social services, and support economic empowerment.

  1. There is no bar to transgender persons marrying under any law:

    Marriage equality is a fundamental human right, and transgender individuals should have the same rights and freedoms as cisgender individuals to marry and form families. Laws and policies should ensure that transgender individuals can freely enter into marriage without discrimination or legal barriers based on their gender identity.

Audience questions:

Subsequent to the covering of the aforementioned points, the audience was given the chance to inquire about any aspect of these points that they needed clarification or further information on. The attendees primarily had questions pertaining to the identification card and the process around name change. Their queries were answered by referencing sections 4-7 of the Act, along with certain judicial pronouncements.

Outcomes of the camp:

  1. Legal Awareness and empowerment of the transgender community in North Kolkata on their rights pertaining to the NLSA, Navtej Singh Johar and Supriyo decisions of the Supreme Court of India and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 and Rules of 2020.
  2. Gathering data on persons who seek to take help of the legal aid society for legal interventions in terms of pursuing a case,
  3. Students were exposed to the real life instances of vulnerable community of transgender persons and their problems and
  4. Bridging the gap between the stakeholders of law (law students and university) and the community who are fearful of the legal world.