Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN | Apr 15, 2014,
The SC said absence of law recognizing hijras as third gender could not be continued as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and employment.
This is for the first time that the third gender has got a formal recognition. The third gender people will be considered as OBCs, the SC said.
The SC said they will be given educational and employment reservation as OBCs.
The apex court also said states and the Centre will devise social welfare schemes for third gender community and run a public awareness campaign to erase social stigma.
The SC said the states must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues.
The SC also added that if a person surgically changes his/her sex, then he or she is entitled to her changed sex and can not be discriminated.
The court expressed concern at the discrimination and said the Centre and states must work to raise awareness and end any perceived stigma. This ruling comes four months after the same court reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in a widely criticised decision.
Gay sex had been effectively legalised in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that a section of the penal code prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” was an infringement of fundamental rights.
Former Election Commission SY Quraishi said, “When the Election Commission recognised transgender as the ‘other’ gender besides male and female, one million of them got empowered. The Supreme Court has endorsed it.”
The Election Commission had issued voters’ cards for the first time to transgenders last year.