Discrimination, housing and the impact of COVID-19 are among the top priorities for India’s new National Council for Transgender Persons.
India is seen as a global leader for its efforts to improve the lives of an estimated 2 million trans people, who face prejudice in the largely conservative country and mostly survive through begging, performing at weddings or selling sex.
Trans people are often denied access to jobs, education and health care – three areas the Asia Pacific Transgender Network has highlighted as priorities.
The council aims to ensure equality by advising on and monitoring government policies and to “redress the grievances” of trans people, according to a 2019 law to protect trans rights, which provided for its creation.
Some hope the council will look at the impact of the new coronavirus on trans people, who have been among those worst hit by India’s monthslong lockdown, which halted sex work and weddings and passenger trains – a popular site for begging.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government would buy 75% of all vaccines from drug makers and distribute them for free to states, which along with private hospitals had earlier been buying shots for people aged 18-45.
Experts have said India needs to administer 10 million doses a day to achieve its aim of inoculating 950 million adults by December. So far, India has fully vaccinated fewer than 5% with two doses. (Reuters/VOA)