Judicial developments recognizing the rights of the transgender community in India

A was filed in the Kerala High Court on the grounds that transgender people did not receive rations from Public Distribution Stores (PDS) since they did not have a ration card. The difficulty of access to medical and healthcare structures was also highlighted in this plea. The Kerala High Court has asked state authorities to ensure that drugs are provided free of charge when a medical prescription is produced by a transgender person. Identity cards and ration cards should be issued at the earliest when a trans person approaches authorities for the same, the court ordered.

In court, the Director of Social Justice, Thiruvananthapuram, pointed out that the government of Kerala had put in place various programs for the upliftment of the trans community which included support for self-employment, marriage between trans couples, support funding for gender reassignment surgery and a scholarship. .

In addition to this, a 24/7 helpline has been launched to provide necessary assistance to transgender people in distress and to protect their basic rights by providing advice and legal assistance. Apart from this, efforts have been made to provide ration kits, provide shelter during lockdown etc. The Court added that to translate their rights into reality, it is vital for trans people and NGOs working with the trans community to identify issues and share them with officers.

On aspects of measures taken by the Kerala High Court to address community grievances, Shinde said:

“What is done in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu has not trickled down to Maharashtra. While these states have a functioning Transgender Welfare Board, in Maharashtra this is not the case. Maharashtra Welfare Board has just been set up during the pandemic but no one knows if it is still really functional or not as the community has not received any benefit or consideration yet.

In December 2021, the Supreme Court condemned state governments and Union Territories (UT) for failing to comply with its decade-old instructions to issue ration and identity cards to sex workers.

“The Government has a compelling duty to provide basic amenities to the citizens of this country. State/Union Territory Governments and other authorities are required to begin the process of issuing Ration Cards/Ration Cards immediately. voter identity to sex workers on the list maintained by OCNA”, the Court ordered.

While court orders and judgments have helped to better implement the directions set out in NALSAmuch remains to be done to ensure the socio-economic and political participation of gender and sexual minorities.