The sexual minorities in the state want to send a message to the general public—they are humans, too. In a bid to do just that, Sangama, a human rights organisation that works with sexual minorities, will file a petition at the Karnataka high court seeking repeal of the Karnataka Police Act that empowers the state to keep a tab on transgenders in the state.
The amendment to the Act, which was introduced in 2011, allows the police to maintain a register detailing the names and addresses of transgenders residing in a particular area.
“When this amendment came into existence, we held a public meeting condemning the Act. We are condemned in the eyes of the general public. The Act allows the police to accuse sexual minorities of kidnapping without proof. If someone wants to move from one area to another, he/she has to go and get permission from the police. This is against human rights,” says Akkai Padmashali, programme manager at Sangama.
Padmashali says research is done to understand the Act better and the petition will be filed within a few days. “We are collating information and conducting a lot of research.
We will be in a position to file a petition in the Karnataka high court within five days,” she says. Close to 3,000 sexual minorities are living in the city, according to Sangama.
The Act is dehumanising sexual minorities. “The word used is Napunsak which is used to describe something that is non-living. But it is used to describe us. We are not stones or random objects. We are humans. We breathe. We have feelings, too. The Act also assumes that transgenders will not only kidnap children but will emasculate boys. How is this right?” she asks.
Padmashali says it is incumbent on politicians to ‘delete’ the Act. “The Act was passed without the approval of the majority in the Assembly. While we held public meetings, no politician took the responsibility to take back the Act. It is condemnable that such an Act was passed without the presence of the opposition party members,” she says.
While repealing the Act is the priority of Padmashali and those working at Sagama, the organisation is looking to the future to create a more safe and welcome environment for sexual minorities. “Our main agenda is to make sure this Act does not exist because only when the Act is gone can we move forward to other issues. But once we have ensured that, we want to work on rights for sexual minorities. We want labour rights and other basic rights that exist for everyone else,” she says.