The Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a Bill aimed at empowering the transgender community that allows for stringent punishment for crimes committed against them. Currently, there is no law to protect transgender persons in India. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, will also pave the way for them to be declared a third gender.

The new law will put in place punishment for offences committed against members of the community and will allow up to two years imprisonment for such crimes. This includes forcing a transgender into bonded labour, pushing them to leave their home, snatching their land away from them, forcibly removing their clothes, and other offences. The Bill also states that no trans child can be separated from their parents unless ordered by a court. It suggested amending the Indian Penal Code to include sexual crimes against the community and proposed the establishment of a National Council of Transgender Persons.

"A committee will be formed to decide whether such transgenders should be declared as member of the backward class and whether they are entitled to reservation like the OBC [Other Backward Class]," a ministry official was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

The Bill was based on a legislation from a private member (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP, Tiruchi Siva) that was passed in the Rajya Sabha in April 2015. The government had then said it would draft its own Bill before passing it in the Lok Sabha. The government had several rounds of consultations before it cleared the Bill, The Indian Express reported.