Are you doing Business in Tanzania? Then advertise with us and give your Business a maximum exposure (Call: 0716-231-772)

India court recognises transgender people as third gender

India's Supreme Court has recognised transgender people as a third gender, in a landmark ruling.

"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," it said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.

It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities.

According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people.

In India, a common term used to describe transgender people, transsexuals, cross-dressers, eunuchs and transvestites is hijra.

Campaigners say they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracised because of their gender identity. Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution.

Rights groups say they often face huge discrimination and that sometimes hospitals refuse to admit them.

They have been forced to choose either male or female as their gender in most public spheres.

'Proud Indian'

"Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue," Justice KS Radhakrishnan, who headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench, said in his ruling on Tuesday.

"Transgenders are also citizens of India" and they must be "provided equal opportunity to grow", the court said.

"The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender."

The judges asked the government to treat them in line with other minorities officially categorised as "socially and economically backward", to enable them to get quotas in jobs and education.

"We are quite thrilled by the judgement," Anita Shenoy, lawyer for the petitioner National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa), told the BBC.

"The court order gives legal sanctity to the third gender. The judges said the government must make sure that they have access to medical care and other facilities like separate wards in hospitals and separate toilets," she said.

Prominent transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, who was among the petitioners in the case, welcomed the judgement, saying the community had long suffered from discrimination and ignorance in the traditionally conservative country, reports the Agence France-Presse news agency.

"Today, for the first time I feel very proud to be an Indian," Ms Tripathi told reporters outside the court in Delhi.

In 2009, India's Election Commission took a first step by allowing transgenders to choose their gender as "other" on ballot forms.

But India is not the first country to recognise a third gender. Nepal recognised a third gender as early as in 2007 when the Supreme Court ordered the government to scrap all laws that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And last year, Bangladesh also recognised a third gender.

Tuesday's ruling comes after the Supreme Court's decision in December which criminalised gay sex by reversing a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order which had decriminalised homosexual acts.

According to a 153-year-old colonial-era law - Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code - a same-sex relationship is an "unnatural offence" and punishable by a 10-year jail term.

Legal experts say Tuesday's judgement puts transgender people in a strange situation: on the one hand, they are now legally recognised and protected under the Constitution, but on the other hand they may be breaking the law if they have consensual gay sex.

BBC News:

Read More »

Court orders Berlusconi to perform community service at center for elderly

An Italian court ruled Tuesday that former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi must perform community service at a home for the elderly as his sentence for tax fraud. The order was requested by Berlusconi, a three-time prime minister, media magnate and billionaire, as a way to serve the remaining year of a four-year sentence, the first three years having been covered by amnesties. Berlusconi, 77, is legally considered too old to serve prison time and would have been subjected to house arrest had he not consented to community service. He has been assigned to work at a center run by the Fondazione Sacra Famiglia [official website, in Italian] Catholic foundation in the Lombardy region of Milan one day a week for at least four hours. The court has also restricted Berlusconi's travel, requiring him to remain in the Lombardy region of Italy, allowing him to travel only to Rome Tuesday through Thursday of each week. Berlusconi had already been required to relinquish his passport and has since twice been denied international travel.

Tuesday's court ruling is the latest in the legal drama that has plagued Berlusconi for several years. Having been a defendant in nearly 50 cases, Berlusconi has avoided prison through successful appeals and expired statute of limitations. He has, however suffered much political fallout as a result of his criminal charges. With regard to Berlusconi's most recent legal struggles, last month, an Italian high court upheld a two-year ban from public office for Berlusconi as a result of his tax-fraud conviction. For the same reason, the Italian Senate expelled Berlusconi from parliament last November, removing his immunity and making him prone to prosecution for other crimes. In October 2013, Berlusconi was ordered to stand trial for allegedly bribing a senator to switch political parties. The previous June, Berlusconi was convicted of paying a 17-year-old dancer for sex while he was in office and for abusing his power by asking police to release her. In March 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of breaking secrecy rules by publishing the transcript of a taped phone conversation between him and a political rival.

JURIST

Read More »

French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

A court in Paris has dismissed a case brought against American singer Bob Dylan on charges of inciting hatred following an interview in which he allegedly compared Croats with Nazis.

In the 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan was quoted as saying, "If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood."

His comments, which were in response to a question about race relations in the United States, outraged some of his Croatian fans, leading the Council of Croats in France (CRICCF) to lodge an official complaint.

A judicial investigation into the incident was opened in November, the same month Dylan was awarded France’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur.

The case was dismissed Tuesday on the grounds that Dylan, 72, had not given his consent for his remarks to be published in the French-language edition of Rolling Stone.

Instead, the judge presiding over the case ordered the director of the magazine’s French edition to stand trial over the charges.

If convicted, Dylan would have faced a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($62,000).

Ethnic Croats and Serbs were involved in bitter fighting following the breakup of Yugoslavia during the 1991-1995 war, which claimed the lives of an estimated 20,000 people.

Nazi-related topics are also highly sensitive in Croatia, where the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians during World War II.

Since Croatia declared independence in 1991, some groups have attempted to rehabilitate aspects of the Ustasha regime.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Read More »