Human Rights Watch said that India's parliament should enact a bill to ensure better legal protection for the rights of the transgender population.
The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, if passed, will allow for legal gender recognition, removing a fundamental barrier for transgender people toward realizing their basic human rights, including protection from violence and discrimination, it said in a letter to Indian MPs.
"What is at stake in this bill is the fundamental dignity of transgender people, who for too long have had to endure public ridicule and humiliating treatment by police and other authorities," Human Rights Watch said. "India's parliament should ensure transgender people have full legal recognition as required by the constitution and international law."
While India has made considerable progress on rights of transgender people, most remain socially marginalized and deprived of basic rights, including the right to vote, own property, marry, and claim a formal identity through a passport or other government identification. They are frequently publicly ridiculed and excluded from general society, enduring discrimination and humiliation from the police and medical authorities.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that transgender people be recognized as a third gender and enjoy all fundamental rights.
The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on April 24, calls for equal rights to transgender people. To become law, it now must be passed by the Lok Sabha, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a majority.
The minister for social justice and empowerment, belonging to the BJP, has thus far said that the government supports the issue but wants to bring its own comprehensive bill in this regard.