Eunuchs demand right to vote

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A eunuch in Mumbai has complained to a human rights agency watchdog seeking the right to vote for his community in the next month's Indian state assembly elections.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi has termed the denial of political suffrage "a gross violation of human rights". Eunuchs and transgenders are not allowed to vote since the state government does not recognise their gender.

The complaint stated: "There is a gross violation of the human rights of eunuchs in Maharashtra. We are not provided with ration cards and not permitted to vote."

It added that the government of Tamil Nadu has already issued ration cards to members of the community in the state. "It is the only state to have recognised eunuchs as a different sex."

The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the chief secretary of the state government ordering them to ensure that departments concerned with handing out ration cards and voter ID cards file their replies to the complaint by 4 November.

It also asked the government to notify them of the moves being taken or to be taken concerning the issue.

Mr Tripathi also claimed that eunuchs in Maharashtra are deprived of life, liberty and dignity, forcing them to resort to illegal means to make ends meet.

"If we are not given the chance to lead a normal life, then we are left with the ultimate choice of begging or prostitution to earn money," the complaint added.

He is backed by four law students who had earlier filed a Right to Information application before the state election commission regarding eunuchs' rights in the state.

But one of the students told the Indian media that the commission returned the application saying "they cannot reply to such applications".

* From The Belfast Telegraph