From A Correspondent
SHILLONG , May 6: Legal service providers and other government stakeholders affirmed their commitment to come forward and support transgender community members in Meghalaya to protect their rights in line with Supreme Court’s LSA judgement of April 2014.
The discussion was made during a state-level workshop organized in Shillong by SAATHII and AMA, in partnership with Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA). A total of 23 legal service providers, associated with MSLSA and District Legal Services Authority, six representatives from various departments including Social Welfare, Education, Health, Home, Law, as well transgender community members, associated with Shamakami, a local support group, were part of the workshop.
According to those working with the transgender people in Meghalaya – and globally – they are extremely vulnerable to harassment, discrimition, violence and sexual assault, resulting in violation of their human rights.
It may be mentioned that in response to a petition filed by the tiol Legal Services Authority (LSA) concerning transgender rights, the Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark judgement on April 15, 2014.
The Apex court recognized the need for granting full citizenship, regardless of gender assigned at birth, protecting rights and making provision of entitlements for transgender individuals.
Following the judgement, the Centre and State governments were directed by the Apex Court to implement recommendations within six months - October 15, 2014.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE), Government of India, constituted an Expert Committee in October 2013 to make an in-depth study of the problems being faced by the transgender community.
In this context, SAATHII, an NGO working on universal access to health, justice and social welfare, and AMA, a community-based organisation working in North East region of India, partnered with Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) to organise the workshop.
Key objectives were to share key elements of the Supreme Court’s LSA ruling with legal service providers and representatives of key departments from the government of Meghalaya, to develop a strategy for implementation of the Supreme Court’s LSA judgement, including strategy for formation of transgender welfare board and extending social security measures for transgender individuals in the state.
There was also discussions on to develop a strategy to help community members reaching out to sensitised legal service providers for gender identity change affidavit related support, to discuss and strategize on leveraging support from legal service providers on addressing human rights violation of transgender individuals.
W Diengdoh, Member Secretary, MSLSA referred to the discrimition faced by transgender people at home, educatiol institutions, employment.
Diengdoh referred to Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India that collectively guarantee to all persons equality before law, ensure freedom of speech and expression to all citizens, and guarantee a life of dignity to all persons.
He said that the Supreme Court Verdict of 2014 specifically sought to prohibit discrimition and ensure inclusion of transgender people in walks of life.
He also said the workshop would help colleagues in the Legal Services Authority and other departments gain clarity on how they can play a part in the development of transgender community.
Transgender community members also shared their persol experiences of facing systemic stigma and discrimition due to their non-mainstream gender identity. In this context, they spoke about police harassment, and stigma and discrimition based on their gender identity or expression.
Do, a transgender activist from Shillong, spoke from her persol experience of being bullied in school due to her gender expression, though her mother was supportive.
She appealed for mapping of transgender community members by the state government to eble comprehensive assessment of needs, and measures to enhance access to social security schemes.
Representatives from other government departments also ensured that they would take up the issue with their higher authorities and take necessary action at the level of their departments.
Transgender's meet held
From A Correspondent