Indian Parliament Passes Transgender Rights Bill, Homosexuality Still Illegal

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The upper house of India’s Parliament made history last Friday, passing a bill that seeks to protect the welfare of the country’s transgender citizens, also called “third gender” or “hijras.”

The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2014, which now moves on to the lower house, calls for the creation of welfare boards for trans people, as well as separate courts, a prohibition of employment discrimination, access to financial aid, and a 2% quota for government and education jobs.

Related: These Transgender Women Are Saving Lives—And Cars—In India

“Though physically fit, transgenders face discrimination at every step of their lives with no job opportunities, access to education or avenues to lead a normal life,” said MP Tiruchi Siva, who sponsored the bill. “This bill seeks to correct this and pave the way for their social acceptance.”

Last year, India’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of legally recognizing the identities of transgender citizens, and “affirmed that they should not be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or expression.”

This new legislation would add infrastructural changes to support that decision.

While the bill’s progress is a huge step in the right direction, the Indian government has still not stepped in to address a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that re-criminalized homosexuality.