Indian media: Transgender people celebrate new identity

India's transgender people are celebrating the court's ruling Image copyright AFP
Image caption India's transgender people are celebrating the court's ruling

Media welcome the Supreme Court's "landmark" judgement that recognises transgender people as a third gender in India.

"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the court said on Tuesday while granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.

The court also directed the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities.

Describing the judgement a "groundbreaking", newspapers say it will help reduce the "social discrimination" the transgender community faces.

"From social exclusion to equality under the law, the transgender community in India has come a long way. In what can easily be termed a historic moment, Indian transgenders have got legal status as the Supreme Court has granted recognition to them as the third category of sex," says The Tribune.

The paper, however, says the order alone cannot end the discrimination.

"It remains to be seen if this decision would put an end to the continual social discrimination… No doubt real acceptance has to come from society which must no longer view them as oddities or queer people, but treat them as equals with due deference," it adds.

"The groundbreaking judgment... is emblematic of the concerns the top court has increasingly shown towards human rights and an equality that is promised by the basic tenets of the constitution," The Asian Age says.

The paper notes that "these are indeed momentous times for the third gender and a little more than 28,000 of them are eligible to vote for the first time in the general election".


Members of the transgender community and activists are celebrating the judgement.

Akkai Padmashali, an activist from the southern state of Karnataka, says a change in the legal status will help change the "social, medical and emotional position" of the transgender people in society.

"It gives us the right to choose our gender identity and will help our families accept us. Finally, the state has taken the responsibility to take care of one of the most socially backward groups," the activist is quoted as saying in The Times of India.

Simran Shaikh, a transgender activist involved in raising awareness about Aids, feels they have been given "a weapon to defend" themselves, the report says.

Meanwhile, papers are also calling for the court to decriminalise homosexuality in view of Tuesday's judgement.

"Any debate on gender identity is incomplete without taking sexual orientation into account… Now after championing the rights of transgender persons, the court must recognise the gender identity of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals as well," says the Hindustan Times.

Gandhis in war of words

In domestic politics, newspapers are prominently reporting the "war of words" between Priyanka and Varun Gandhi, grandchildren of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

While Priyanka's mother Sonia Gandhi and brother Rahul are leaders of the Congress party, her cousin Varun is a member of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Priyanka, while campaigning for her family for the ongoing elections, accused Varun of "betrayal" and said he needed to be shown the "right path" since he had "gone astray", media reports said.

In response, Varun said he had never made personal attacks against others but his "decency and large-heartedness" should not be considered a weakness, reports said.

Sonia, Rahul and Varun are all contesting parliamentary elections from Uttar Pradesh.

Newspapers are capturing the exchange of "barbs" between the cousins in front-page headlines.

"Campaign gets vitriolic," reads the headline in The Pioneer. "Priyanka to Varun: this is no tea party, it's war," says The Asian Age.

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