PIL in SC calls for equal safety to transgenders towards sexual offences

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26

Highlighting gaps in penal laws dealing with sexual offences, a lawyer has moved the Supreme Court demanding equal protection of law for members of transgender community against such offences.

Petitioner Reepak Kansal alleged that there was no penal provision which protected those belonging to the third gender from offences of sexual assault.

He urged the top court to direct the Centre to “make appropriate modification/interpretation of sections/provisions of IPC dealing with sexual assault to include transgender/transsexuals/kinnar and eunuchs in the definitions accordingly”.

Kansal also wanted an anti-discrimination law that penalised discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender and implementation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights by India as it was a signatory to it.

“In spite of declaring transgender people to be a ‘third gender’ by this court, there is no provision/section in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which may protect the third gender from the sexual assault by male/female or another transgender,” Kansal submitted in his PIL, referring to a 2014 verdict of the top court on rights of transgenders.

The top court had granted “recognition to the transgender/ third gender as ‘persons’ falling under the ambit of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution” still they do not have equal protection of law in relation to sexual offenses.

Kansal has challenged the validity of certain clauses of Section 354A (outraging the modesty of woman) of IPC, to the extent that they were interpreted to exclude transgender victims of sexual harassment.

It violated their right to equality, right against discrimination and right to life and personal liberty under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution respectively, he submitted.

Kansal pointed out that the IPC, recent amendments to it and other laws on sexual offences – none talked about the “transgender, transsexuals, kinnar and eunuchs”.

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