The Tamil Nadu government has issued a glossary, as suggested by the Madras High Court, as to how the persons belonging to the third gender should be addressed/described.
The Additional Advocate-General (AAG) told Justice N Ananth Venkatesh on Tuesday that the glossary was published in the Tamil Nadu government gazette of the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment department on August 20 this year.
He also furnished a copy of the same to the judge and submitted that by virtue of the publication of the glossary in the official gazette, the terms mentioned in it would have statutory backing and whenever the LGBTQIA+ community is to be addressed by any forum, it is mandatory to describe them only by using the terms that have been mentioned in the gazette.
By doing so, an attempt is being made to address persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community with more dignity and respect, the AAG said.
The judge recorded AAG's submissions and made it clear that all concerned, including the visual and the print media, must take note of the notification and address the persons belonging to the community by using only the notified terms wherever required.
As regards the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, the judge was told the draft rules had been received from the Director of Social Welfare and it requires scrutiny and compliance with the Central Act, 2019. It also requires the approval of the Law department, before the circulation of the same to the Chief Minister. Hence, the judge was requested to give six more months to finalise the rules and to notify the same.
The judge was also told that for the Transgender Policy, instructions had been issued to the Transgender Welfare Board secretary to prepare the exclusive policy for such persons in consultation with stakeholders concerned, including the officials of the State Planning Commission. Six more months time was sought to come up with the final policy.
However, the judge felt that six more months to finalise the Transgender Policy and the rules thereunder is totally unacceptable. It shows that priority is not being given to this issue. This process has been going on for more than a year and it is not known as to why six months' time is sought, the judge wondered.
The government must bear in mind that persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community have been sidelined from the mainstream of society for too long a period and it is high time that top priority is given to implementing the policy and rules. If the government is really willing and serious about the upliftment of persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, some urgency must be shown to finalise the policy and the rules.
This court expects the government to appreciate the concern shown by it, the judge said and granted time till September 2, when the matter will be taken up again.
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