UNDP hails landmark Supreme Court decision on rights of transgender to choose their identity

15 Apr 2014


Respect for human rights is at the root of human development says Judgment

New Delhi -- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has hailed today’s landmark Supreme Court judgment as an important step in ending discrimination against the community.

With this judgment, the Court has recognized and re-affirmed an individual’s right to choose their identity as male, female or third gender.

“UNDP joins the community and country in celebrating the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment. We congratulate the Government of India, the National Legal Services Authority and the transgender community for their efforts to affirm that individuals have the right to choose their identity,” said Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.

In its Judgment, the Supreme Court noted: “Respect for human rights is the root of human development and realization of full potential of each individual, which in turn leads to the augmentation of human resources with progress of the nation. Empowerment of the people through human development is the aim of human rights.”

Key highlights of the Judgment:

•    Recognition of people who identify in the opposite sex is based on self-identification. This includes female identifying as male and male identifying as female
•    Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity amounts to discrimination on the ground of sex under Article 15
•    No sex reassignment surgery is required for recognition of gender identity
•    The right of individuals to choose their gender identity is protected under the Constitution

The Judgment directs State governments to ensure livelihoods, expand social security, provide health care, and to make civil amenities like public toilets and restrooms accessible and available for them.

The case was filed by the National Legal Services Authority in 2012 and was subsequently impleaded by civil and legal rights groups.

Since 2009, UNDP has supported efforts at greater recognition for the transgender community. This has included convening stakeholder consultations, generating greater awareness in the legal community and strengthening community institutions.  

For recent UNDP publications:  
•    Legal recognition of transgender people: An Overview
•    Hijras/transgender in India: HIV, human rights and social exclusion

Contact Information

Nandita Surendran - +9 198 100 847 76, email: nandita.surendran@undp.org