With the women’s reservation bill getting through the Rajya Sabha hurdle, sexual minority groups in Kolkata are now seeking a similar quota for themselves as well as reservation in other fields such as health, education and employment. Sexual minority groups comprise gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals.
‘We also want reservation in parliament and legislative assemblies. As we are transgenders we are deprived of our basic rights and are ill-treated by society. So if there is reservation for our community in parliament, we can raise our issues in the temple of the Indian constitution,’ Sujoy Debnath alias Suzane, a transgender, told IANS.
Biswanath Nandi, another transgender from Shyambazar, echoes Sujoy.
He says whenever they go to hospitals, the officers are in a dilemma whether to admit them in the male or female ward.
‘We want reservation in parliament and legislative assemblies. It will be of great help to us in achieving our basic rights. Apart from parliament and legislative assembies, we also want reservations in healthcare, education and jobs so that we can also live a decent life,’ says Nandi.
‘We feel prostitutes and transgenders need reservation. We are the most neglected lot,’ said Rekha, a sex worker.
However, there is a divided view on providing reservations for members of the sexual minority groups.
Manas Bangla, an organisation keeping track of different sexual minority welfare organisations, says that transgenders deserve reservation as they come from poor economic background.
‘In my personal view I do feel that transgenders, gays, lesbians should be brought under the reservation system. The transgenders need it as most of them come from a very poor economic background,’ says Sanjib Chakroborty, a Manas Bangla official and a gay.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) central committee leader Mohammed Salim told IANS: ‘They can contest from general seats.’
Kunal Choudhury, a gay and an activist working for the rights of sexual minority groups, said: ‘We do have this reservation issue in our minds but before that we need to secure the basic rights for sexual minority groups and increase awareness regarding these groups.’
Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, member of the mayor-in-council, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, said: ‘They are always welcome to contest elections as they are part and parcel of society. They can contest elections for general seats only.’
The women’s reservation bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha, seeks to reserve 33 percent seats in parliament and state legislatures for women. The bill has still to be tabled in the Lok Sabha.