NEW DELHI — In a rare legislative action, a private member's Bill seeking to protect the rights of transgenders was passed unanimously by voice vote in Rajya Sabha today.
The "Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014", moved by Tiruchi Siva (DMK) was passed after leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it would not be proper if the House is divided on this issue as all feel in favour of the rights of transgenders.
The Bill was passed with the full strength of the treasury benches, though several opposition members were not present at the time. The Bill was passed by voice vote in the presence of 19 Union Ministers, including eight Cabinet Ministers. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also present.
Siva later shook hands with the senior members in the House, thanking them for supporting him in the bill's passage.
Jaitley spoke after Siva insisted on division, rejecting the assurance given by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot that government will come out with a comprehensive bill in this regard.
Gehlot said many issues were yet to be resolved among various Ministries on the issue and clarification has been sought from the Supreme Court on some other issues.
Siva, however, did not yield and insisted on voting, saying the issue was important and needed to be taken up urgently to protect the rights of transgenders.
While Congress members, despite their poor attendance, prompted Siva to go ahead for seeking passage of the bill, at least three Ministers and the Chair requested Siva to take the government's assurance and not insist for voting, going against the tradition of the House.
Moving the bill for passage, Siva said 29 nations and leading democracies in the world including US, UK, Canada, France, Australia, Italy and Singapore had legislations protecting rights of transgenders.
India’s Supreme Court recognised transgender people as a third gender in April 2014.