Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Dec 24:
The state election commission (SEC) on Monday opened up a whole new dimension to the ongoing countrywide debate on the rights of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT), which started in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the legality of Sec 377 of the IPC re-criminalising gay and lesbian sex in the process.
In a decision that is bound to enliven the debate, the SEC rejected the candidature of a transgender, who had filed nomination from a ward reserved for women even as it upheld that of another, who had filed nomination from an unreserved ward.
The one who lost out in the electoral battle was Madhuri Kinnar, who had filed nomination papers from Ward No 30 and the one who managed to sneak through was Menaka Kinnar from a general ward.
Madhuri Kinnar, who filed nomination as an independent candidate, was denied the opportunity during scrutiny on the ground that transgenders are not qualified to file nomination from seats reserved for women candidates.
LGBT activists are up in arms over the SEC decision, wondering why wards or seats can’t be reserved for them when the Election Commission of India has issued identity cards to them in the ‘other sex’ category.
“Transgenders have been allowed to contest elections in some other states,” points out Pratap Sahu, an activist, who works for the rights of the gay community in the city.
Challenging the order of the election officer, the transgender community has decided to move the Odisha High court to seek justice. The petition will be filed on Wednesday, Sahu said.
It is to be noted that Delhi’s State Election Commission had allowed eunuchs to fight the civic polls as per their status enrolled in the voters’ list in 2012. The Commission had come out with an order that said eunuchs, whose sex in the voters’ list was mentioned as “other”, could contest from wards in the general category. It also said eunuchs who had enrolled their names in voters’ list as ‘women’, could fight the polls from the seats reserved for the fair sex.
As per the Navin Chawla Committee Report, 1991, there are three columns – M (Male) and F (Female) and O (Others) – in the nomination papers and eunuchs are usually clubbed in the O category.
However, there are precedents to the eunuchs’ demand.
Asha Devi alias Amarnath Yadav got elected as mayor of Gorakhpur in 2007 from a seat reserved for women.
Asha Devi’s nomination was initially turned down by the election commission, but she was eventually allowed to contest in view of an earlier instance in Madhya Pradesh where a eunuch Shabnam Mausi had entered the Assembly from an open constituency in November 2000.