Separate Toilets for Third-Gender : Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court directed the state government to file a status report disclosing the number of toilets it has built for transgender persons and whether all new public toilet facilities being built in the national capital have separate spaces for the community.

A bench of  Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla also said that if the new facilities do not have separate spaces for transgender persons, then the government should immediately look into the aspect.

During the proceedings, the court said –

“Let a status report be file disclosing what steps have been taken to date for building separate toilets for transgenders. The number of toilets created shall be disclosed. It shall also be disclosed whether new constructions at public toilets have space for transgenders. If not, we direct them to look into this aspect without delay. Let this be filed within a week from the next hearing,”

The matter will now be considered on July 29.

This petition was filed by Jasmine Kaur Chhabra seeking directions to the government to make provision for separate public toilets for the third gender.

During the hearing, counsel for the Delhi government informed the court that a notification was issued by the social welfare department in this regard on February 12, 2021, and efforts are being made to create separate facilities.

Counsel for the petitioner, however, said that the notification was issued almost a year and a half back stating that these facilities would be available in two years, but no significant steps have been taken in this regard.

The Bench then remarked that the issue can’t be solved overnight and that as awareness grows and society becomes more sensitive, the facilities will come up.

“This can’t just be raised overnight. As awareness is going up… They have said that in the meantime toilets meant for persons with disabilities will be used. As society becomes more evolved and sensitive people will do it. You have to give them time no,” Justice Sanghi said.

The PIL contended that people of the transgender community feel uncomfortable using washrooms that are built for males and females and that the same was violative of their right to privacy. They are also prone to sexual harassment because of the lack of third-gender toilets, it was submitted.

The petition also stated that many transgender persons have not disclosed their identity due to social stigma, and are deprived of basic health facilities, resulting in their contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other severe health issues.

“The transgenders, male and female, feel uncomfortable and hesitate when the third gender uses the washrooms which are made for male and female. So as a human, every individual deserves a safe and healthy environment while utilizing washrooms for their necessities. When the third gender uses the washrooms made for males and females, then their Right to Privacy is violated,” the petition said.

It was the case of the petitioner that the absence of gender-neutral toilets goes against the judgments of the Supreme Court in NALSA v. Union of India and Navtej Singh Johar v. Ministry of Law.

“Centre and state govt should take proper measures to provide medical care to transgender’s ill hospitals and also provide them separate public toilets and other facilities,” the petition said.

When the matter was first heard on May 25, the Delhi government had said that it has already issued a notification under Section 22 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, to build public toilets for transgender persons.

It was further submitted that government would make ‘T’ signs on the toilets meant for persons with disabilities so that the transgender community could use those.

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