C Times, 4th September 2017, Agartala
The NDA government has dropped plans to recognise transgender persons as the ‘third gender’ in the country’s labour law framework.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had for the first time recognised transgender persons as the ‘third gender’ and asked the Centre and the States to give them equal opportunities in education and employment.
But now this reform, part of the Labour Ministry’s draft law to codify wages and aimed at protecting transgender workers from discrimination, has been shelved following reservations expressed by the Law Ministry.
The Wages Code Bill was drafted under an exercise to rationalise the country’s 44 labour laws into four codes covering all the regulations pertaining to wages, industrial relations, social security and safety, and health and working conditions.
The Law Ministry’s argument is totally illogical. Dropping the separate clauses protecting transgender persons is a hypocritical move by the Union government, as it is well known that we face discrimination at the workplace, a transgender said.
According to the Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey conducted by the Labour Bureau in 2015-16, 48 percent of transgender were either working or were available for work, as against 23.7 percent females, and 75 percent males.