‘Transgender Day of Rage’ to mark Kolkata pride

This is a graphic designed for the ongoing campaign against the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016. The text says “Stop the Transgender Bill” in a bold typeface and large point size. To the left of the text is a layered illustration that shows a clenched fist in the background. An open palm is placed on the fist, with many more hands and forearms visible inside the open palm – all symbolizing a demand for protection and promotion of transgender and intersex rights. The dominant colour theme in the graphic is red, black and white. The numerous hands and forearms are in multiple colours juxtaposed on the black colour of the open palm. The clenched fist is in orange tinged red, while the text is in mainly white on a background of red and black. Artwork credit: Siddhartha Sankar

Happenings, Dec '17
The 16th edition of the ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ is planned for December 10, 2017. The walk will be preceded by a protest against the discriminatory Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, an issue that is expected to take centre stage at the event. Excerpts from a leaflet developed by the organizers of the walk shared here

December 10, 2017: This year ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ is being organized along with the ‘Transgender Day of Rage’! The Government of India has completely let down the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender queer, intersex, asexual and other queer (LGBTIQA) communities. Yet again!

‘Transgender Day of Rage’: Why are we angry?

In April 2014, the Honourable Supreme Court of India passed the internationally acclaimed NALSA verdict to recognize the citizenship rights of transgender and intersex people. Since then LGBTIQA groups and human rights activists were working with the government to implement the court’s directives through the passage of a comprehensive law in the Parliament.

But recently the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) went back on its word and proposed to table a Bill on transgender and intersex rights in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament that could actually harm the very communities it aims to protect.

The proposed Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 goes against not just the NALSA verdict but also the government’s own Parliamentary Standing Committee report! Most crucially, this Bill is wrong in its understanding of ‘transgender’ and ‘intersex’ persons and how they may be different. It defines transgender people based on their anatomical maleness or femaleness rather than self-defined gender identity.

The proposed Bill does not uphold the right to self-identify one’s gender, as assured by the apex court. Instead it proposes to set up District Screening Committees to ‘certify’ people as transgender. How can a committee decide if one is transgender or not, when international guidelines recommend self-determination of gender?

The Bill offers only token measures in the name of anti-discrimination, and criminalizes begging without offering other livelihood options to transgender / Hijra people. We must stop the passage of this Bill, which cannot be part of a democratic and inclusive society that India aspires to become. Please visit www.facebook.com/stopTGBill/ to know how you can help.

More setbacks

In October this year, the government voted against a UN resolution that condemned the death penalty for LGBTIQA people, a heinous practice that still continues in some countries. Though India itself does not prescribe such a penalty, the government’s negative vote effectively means India supports a barbaric violation of the right to life! Isn’t this a matter of shame?

Ray of hope

In August, the Supreme Court issued another landmark verdict on the Right to Privacy being a Fundamental Right. Though it was hearing on whether Aadhaar should be a mandatory identity document for access to social welfare benefits, the court linked the matter to larger concerns around a person’s right to privacy. In a pleasant surprise, the court also upheld the right to privacy and non-discrimination around sexual orientation. It questioned the validity of Section 377, IPC that penalizes non penile-vaginal sexual acts even among consenting adults, especially LGBTIQA people. This brightened hopes of a long-awaited repeal of Section 377.

If you want to learn more about these issues, please visit kolkatapride.org and lawyerscollective.org.

Details about the ‘16th Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’:

Please note:
‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ follows a ‘no organizational banners / logos / advertisements’ policy. Everyone walks with a common banner. But do bring creative posters and slogans on different themes around human rights, especially on ‘protesting the discriminatory Bill on transgender and intersex rights’.

Date and starting time: December 10, 2017, 1.00 pm onwards

Route: From Deshapriya Park (starting point) till Park Circus Maidan (end point). There will be a ‘Transgender Day of Rage’ protest event at the starting point and a public meeting at the end point. Arrangements are being made to support the participation of people with disabilities, including escorts for wheelchair users and a sign language specialist.

For more information: Write to contact@kolkatapride.org.

Main artwork credit: Siddhartha Sankar – artwork shows graphic designed for the ongoing campaign against the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016.

Author Photo

Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival

Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival (KRPF) is an open collective of individuals, networks and organizations, which believes that sexuality is a key element of human existence, fulfillment and enjoyment. They hold that no individual, community or section of society should face stigma, discrimination or violence because of their gender and sexuality. KRPF deploys a variety of art forms, media and mass awareness activities to generate the dialogue necessary to achieve its objectives. Each year KRPF takes the lead in mobilizing participation for the ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’.

Author Photo

Siddhartha Sankar

Siddhartha Sankar believes in using art and creativity to express the unspoken and give voice to the marginalized sections of society. He has studied travel and tourism, worked in the corporate sector and is currently engaged with pocket filmmaking projects.

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