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State board for welfare of transgenders soon

Thursday, September 13, 2018
By Raju Vernekar

With the Supreme Court recognising the transgender community as a third gender along with male and female, and will have fundamental rights under Constitution, pending proposal to set up the Transgender Welfare Board (TWB), in Maharashtra is expected to be expedited.

TWB will be under the Ministry of Social Justice and will look into the issues such as education, employment, housing, and health schemes of transgenders. It will also look after the issue of social boycott of transgenders by people. The board will have two representatives of the transgenders, besides government representatives. TWB is expected to be set up next month.

The proposed TWB will look after all welfare activities of transgenders, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice, Dinesh Waghmare, said. The state government has already made a provision of Rs 5 crore, for the community’s welfare.

Since welfare schemes for transgenders are implemented by Union Social Justice Ministry, all work related to the setting up of the board and implementing welfare schemes was transferred to the state social justice department on October 3, 2017. However, the setting up of TWB was delayed due to lack of clarity about SC’s earlier stand on the issue.

On 15 April 2014 Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri of SC had granted legal recognition to transgenders or eunuchs as “third gender” and directed the centre and states to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes for the purposes of quotas in admission to educational institutions and public appointments.

However, in September 2014, the centre had sought a clarification from the court on whether lesbians, gays and bisexuals qualify as “third gender”. The court had clarified that transgender does not include gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The SC’s 2014 ruling on transgender rights was cited in February to seek a review of its 2013 decision upholding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which prohibited “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.

The idea of TWB was conceptualised in 2014 by the previous Congress-NCP government. The issue of setting up such a board for implementing welfare schemes for transgenders and protecting their rights was mentioned in the third women’s policy of the state government, which was duly accepted by the State Cabinet in 2013.

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