Lesbians, gays, bisexuals are not third gender, SC clarifies

New Delhi (Pahichan) July 1 –  In a landmark ruling in 2014, the Supreme Court had ordered the government to recognise transgenders, or hijras, as the third gender and grant them the status of a socially and economically backward class (SEBC) to allow them to avail of quotas in admissions and jobs.

But activists on Thursday alleged instead of implementing it the government sought further clarification that lesbians, gays and bisexuals would not be covered by the ruling. A bench, comprising justices AK Sikri and NV  Ramana, dismissed the application filed by the ruling regime at the Centre with a warning why it should not impose costs on the government.

This after transgender activists through senior advocate Anand Grover contended that the application was an attempt to stall implementation of the 2014 ruling which was clear that the word transgender was to only refer to the narrow community of hijras, or eunuchs.

As per the ruling, the government had to provide a third option in the gender column — male or female or transgender in the narrower sense — recognise them as an SEBC and give them all benefits of reservations in admissions and jobs.

It was to also address their psychological issues by providing them counselling, setting up separate HIV surveillance centres and toilets to enable them to lead a dignified life guaranteed under the fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution.
The government was to also come up with special social welfare schemes for them. The court had then specifically left out lesbians, gays and bisexuals from the ambit of its order. It had, however, clarified that not only those who were naturally ambivalent about their gender but also those who had switched genders post-surgery would also be included in the order. Quixotically, the government later moved the aped court asking it to again clarify this.

The government also objected to OBC status to all transgenders on the ground that some of them could be born Scheduled Caste (SC) or ST. Today, when the application came up for hearing, the top court was quick to take umbrage to the application.

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