The annual Hijra Habba (meaning amalgamation of transgender people) event is Alliance India’s bold statement of visibility, solidarity and advocacy for the rights of the transgender and hijra community in India. Since 2012, the annual signature event has not only increased visibility, brought together various concerned stakeholders on a single platform to talk about the welfare of the transgender community but also has proved to be a stepping stone in advancing the advocacy efforts of the community over time. More importantly, Hijra Habba is a platform where the LGBTQ+ members are warmly welcomed, free to express their gender identities in all its diversities and celebrated for their idiosyncrasies.
The 8th Annual Hijra Habba event themed ‘All Citizens=Equal Rights’ was organized on 21st June 2019 at The Lalit, New Delhi. The event brought together a gathering of about 250 transgender persons and friends and allies of the transgender community from across the country. As opposed to the 7th Hijra Habba which advocated for the rights in various ways and celebrated the diversity through many cultural performances by community members, 8th Hijra Habba used Public Hearing as an effective tool to advocate for the rights of the community particularly with regard to Health, Social Welfare and Entitlements, Human Rights Violations, Gender Based Violence, Poverty and Economic Development and need for Inclusive Policy Development.
With, primarily two objectives i.e. to engage newly elected Members of Parliament for the holistic welfare and development of the transgender community and 2) to draw attention of the policy makers and stakeholders towards changes to be proposed in the Transgender (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018, 8th Hijra Habba managed to hold a successful public hearing which provided the opportunity to the community to discuss about violation of human rights, stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings, economic and social exclusion, high rate of violence and lack of access to civil and constitutional rights. The suggestions and recommendations by the community can be used by the policy makers to present appropriate revisions to the Parliamentary Committee for the Transgender (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018 among others.
This year also marks the 5th year of the historic NALSA judgment by Supreme Court recognizing transgender people as a ‘third gender’ and affirming that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people. Recognition of ‘third gender’ identity is not good enough, based on the directives of the Supreme Court, there should be policies and laws formulated and implemented to protect transgender rights and empower them to lead a life of dignity.