Graphic Artwork by HRLN

Discussion on Right to Food and Transgender rights

It has been more than eight years since the right to food petition was filed in the Supreme Court. An effort which began as a desperate attempt by more than 54 groups in Rajasthan, which came under the banner of Akaal Sangharsh Samiti, with plain an simple demands of the state and Central Government that Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns be open and food be provided as payment to labour, as famine relief works. entitlements to the Public Distribution System and as gratuitous relief to people living with hunger. There were more than 40 million metric tonnes of grain that were in those godowns. A slew of orders from the Supreme Court and various High Courts in India from 2001 to 2008 resulted in The National Food Security Act, 2013.

In a similar large scale effort and court battles that had been fought by the Transgender Community in the country, resulted in the NALSA Judgement. This was a culmination of the socio-political struggles, large scale movements of claiming rights of transgender persons and the number of prides that were held in the country.

However even to this date there neither the central government nor most of the state government have started programmes to ensure that transgender persons had their right to food protected. A number of discrepancies in the ration cards provided to transgender persons, such as a incorrect names or incorrect gender being printed on the ration cards were a humiliation to transgender persons and furthermore unable to assert their rights because of the discrepancies in their identity cards made it increasingly difficult for transgender persons to assert their rights.

Keeping these things in mind HRLN conducted a fact finding over 5 districts, conducting sensitisation programmes in each of them and recording case studies. HRLN brought all the participants to Hyderabad and published the fact findings, discussed with the transgender persons in the meeting on cases to be filed, issues with the Transgender Persons Act, 2019 and a number of other concerns and provided with sensitisation on issues faced and the protection law offers.