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Transgender community celebrates its recognition as third gender

ANI  |  New Delhi 

The transgender community celebrated victory in New Delhi on Sunday as the Supreme Court recognised 'transgender' as a third gender.

The apex court on Tuesday granted the shunned transgender community legal recognition on basis of their gender, entitling them to same rights as any other citizen, a sweeping verdict that seeks to end centuries of discrimination and ostracism and include them in welfare programmes for the poor, to help them overcome social and economic challenges.

The new ruling seeks to transform their lives, ending the injustice and abuse.

However, participant in the rally, Simran Sheikh, said that it would be long struggle to change the approach of the society towards their community.

"This was an age old fight and we have won it after the court's judgment. But our struggle is not over yet. We have to go a long way. It is very difficult to change the mindset of people but at least we have got a good tool now to change the mindset of people," Sheikh said.

The eunuchs, attending the rally, held placards expressing joy over winning the fight and danced to the beats of drums.

Hate crimes in the conservative country are common, say activists, yet few are reported partly due to a lack of sensitivity by authorities such as the police.

Due to their lack of access to jobs and education, many male-to-female transgenders - also known as "hijras" - are forced to work as sex workers or move around in organised groups begging or demanding money.

A social activist, Swami Agnivesh, present at the rally said the ruling of the Supreme Court was a positive step, which would help the third gender to get jobs.

"They should get reservation and get a chance to move forward in job and education sector. There should be no discrimination against them. This decision made by the Supreme Court keeping in mind world human rights has boosted the morale of the transgender people," Swami Agnivesh said.

A lawyer had previously informed that the government will also have to allocate a certain percentage of public sector jobs, seats in schools and colleges to third gender applicants.

Human rights groups said they hoped the ruling on transgenders would encourage the new parliament to repeal the anti-homosexuality law as one of its first actions.

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First Published: Sun, April 20 2014. 15:41 IST