A Transgender Welfare Board has been established by the Gujarat government, which has been constituted by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment. The community’s housing, education, employment and livelihood will be taken care of by the 16-member board.
What LGBT rights activists have to say
Gay prince Manvendra Singh, who has been fighting for LGBT rights through Lakshya Trust for the last 18 years, highly praised the government. He said that what led to this decision was a meeting that they had with the government representative in Vadodara two months back. Gujarat is where the temple of Goddess Bahucharaji, the third gender’s deity, is located, and this welfare board was indeed much awaited.
He further said that they had requested the government to give female-to-male and male-to-female transgenders representation too, as several members of the community do like being identified as hijras (eunuchs), reported Ahmedabad Mirror. He said that the Supreme Court’s NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) judgement has led to this decision. The third gender too will be a part of the census in 2021, and the board will attempt to give them a dignified way of life.
Sylvester Merchant, LGBT rights activist, said that he hopes that the board really works towards the goal they have aimed for, and does not remain just another inactive committee.
What the board intends to do
According to an official release, an expert committee was constituted by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the purpose of examining the various issues the community faces, following the Supreme Court recognising transgenders as the third gender in 2014. Based on the findings of the committee, state governments were asked by the Apex Court to constitute welfare boards.
The board will have as its members male and female transgenders, eunuchs, NGO members and government officials, and will meet twice a year.
According to sociologist Guarang Jani, several activities were on hold because of the absence of the board, but now they can be carried out easily. Organizations that have been working for LGBT rights will now have help and recognition, and various welfare programmes for employment and education will be taken up. In order to sensitise children, a chapter can also be introduced in textbooks.
As per the state’s social justice department’s statement, social security of the community and other issues will be specially taken care of by the committee. The board will coordinate with various departments to ensure that the community is able to take advantage of government schemes. Various schemes will be brought out for the community and will be implemented, the board being a nodal agency. The intention of the board is to take care of the community’s health and employment issues and look after the overall development of the community.
In a society where transgenders are often not treated equally, The Logical Indian appreciates this initiative by the Gujarat government.