National Congress Party’s Supriya Sule recently gave one of the most progressive political speeches of new India as she talked about the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha from a gender-inclusive perspective on Friday, 19 July. The Baramati MP called for inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the bill and said, “The whole Bill has to be gender neutral. Why is the LGBTQ community not being included? Human rights aren’t just about terrorists or police.”

The bill amendment was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 8 by the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah. The Act, originally passed in 1993, provides for any two persons with knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC. The bill amendment proposes to increase the number to three persons including one woman. It also suggests lowering the term of offices of chairpersons and members of NHRC and SHRC to a period of three years or only until 70 years of age, whichever comes first.

The Lok Sabha, on Friday, passed an amendment of the bill that proposes to provide a person, who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court, the right to be appointed as the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Sule, in her speech, spoke up on the challenges LGBTQ community faces in terms of human rights violations. “The minute we talk about protection of human rights, it does not always have to be about custodial killings or terrorists. The bill encompasses various sections of the society which are affected by human rights so we need to get the LGBT group involved in this,” she added.

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A video of her speech was shared on Twitter making Twitteratis thanking her for the mention of LGBTQ community. Human rights activist and Congress member Harrish Iyer shared the clip and wrote, “@supriya_sule You have been unwavering and steadfast in your support, as promised. Thank you Supriya.” Another member of the community and head of the Lalit hotel group, Keshav Suri also thanked Sule and wrote, “This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much @supriya_sule this is exactly what we need to do QUEER our POLITICS!!! Thank you for #queeringthepitch by bringing up our issues.”

“The minute we talk about protection of human rights, it does not always have to be about custodian killings or terrorists. The bill encompasses various sections of the society which are affected by human rights so we need to get the LGBT group involved in this,”

DMK MP Kanimozhi also raised her support for women during the discussion on the bill. She said that the NGOs and social activists who have protected the rights of women, children, Dalit and other minority communities must be made a part of the NHRC. The re-eligibility will dilute the autonomy of the committee, she adds. The Thoothukudi MP also called for raising the percentage of women members in the committee.

She noted that there are only 20% women in the committee, and urged for the percentage to increase to at least 50% women. She also expresses her concerns over the Chairperson’s powers and their overreach, the atrocities of the armed forces and custodial deaths. The fact that crime and prison statistics have stopped being given out by the government is testament to how it is not serious about the issue of human rights.

Picture credit- The Print

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