New Delhi (June 30, 2015): More than 350 hijras and transgenders across the country came together at the third National Hijra Habba to advocate for their social welfare and full access their rights. Policy makers, government representatives, social welfare officials, UN representatives, members of Parliament, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) delegates, media, healthcare providers, and civil society also took part in the event in support of transgender and hijra communities in India.
Organised by India HIV/AIDS Alliance’s Pehchan programme, the event highlighted how little has changed since the Supreme Court judgement in 2014 recognized them at the “Third Gender.” The recent Rajya Sabha bill providing reservation in education, employment, financial aid and social inclusion for transgenders needs further action to become law.
To help push forward progress on these matters, the 2015 Hijra Habba served as a forum for dialogue for different stakeholders from government and communities to work towards an action plan for transgender and hijra welfare nationwide.
Held at the Eros Hotel in Nehru Place, the day’s events included experience sharing, community performances, and discussions to expand transgender and hijra access to health, education and employment opportunities. Monica Dogra (singer and actress), Sandeep Soparrkar, (choreographer) and Onir (film director) showed their support, and the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, affirmed the Government’s commitment to protect the rights of the transgender community.
Speaking about the Supreme Court’ ruling on transgender rights, activist Laya Medhini pointed out, “With this judgement, the ‘Third Gender’ category has been created, thus giving a right of identity to all transgenders. They have been clearly recognized as vulnerable and must be able to access their rights.”
James Robertson, Executive Director of India HIV/AIDS Alliance, said, “It is essential that the Government should develop responsive policies and ensure their implementation of this judgement at community level. Only when transgenders and hijras are able to access the full benefits of citizenship can they be truly empowered.”
Leaders of the transgender movement, such as Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Akkai Padmashali and Gauri Sawant also spoke about the importance of national forums, such as Hijra Habba, in pushing the Indian Government to work towards transgender and hijra welfare.
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