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In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India directed the Central and state governments to provide healthcare and education to transgenders, describing them as a socially backward community in India, after years of lobbying by activist groups.
“India is the first country in the world to recognize Transgenders as third gender,” lawyer Sanjeev Bhatnagar was quoted by Indian news agency ANI.
Expressing concerns over discrimination, harassment of transgenders in the country, the top court said transgenders have equal rights to social acceptability in India, an observation that would come as a relief to India’s three-million-strong transgender community called “hijras” in the Hindi language.
“I am very happy, today we have been given same rights as men and women,” said Laxmi Tripathi, the petitioner in the case.
A bench comprising of Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice AK Sikri on Tuesday said they will be given educational and employment reservation as OBC – an acronym for Other Backward Castes or the “middle castes”.
28,314 Indian voters enrolled as ‘others’ under gender for the ongoing 2014 general elections.
The top court had, however, in December last year, reinstated a colonial-era law banning gay sex in the country.
Social media giant, Facebook, has recently added a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender, including transgender.