In a first, a transgender woman from Maharashtra has won the gram panchayat elections. Anjali Patil, who was initially denied the chance to contest the elections from the women’s reserved category, has won the election in the Bhadli Budruk village of the Jalgaon district.
The elections were held on January 15th, and the elected representatives were announced on Monday. Anjali Patil is a representative of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA).
Anjali Patil’s Petition To The High Court Won Her The Right To Contest As A Woman
Anjali Patil’s nomination as a candidate had been rejected by the returning officer for the village on the grounds that the seat was reserved for women, and she did not qualify. She filed a petition against the decision in the Bombay High Court, which was accepted.
The High Court observed that under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019, a transgender person had the right to self-determination. Under these conditions, Patil was well within her rights to contest from the seat reserved for women.
The bench, while accepting and allowing her petition, also put down a condition that Patil wouldn’t “swtich over to the male gender driven by opportunism and would continue to opt for the female gender, in future, save and except there is a reservation provided for transgender in public life”. This has raised questions about how valid the state considers non-binary and genderfluid persons, but the judgement is a landmark one regardless.
Anjali Patil’s Win Is A Win For The LGBTQ+ Community
The Bombay High Court also rejected the returning officer’s order noting that it was “apparent” that he was ignorant of the law. Says Patil, “I was dejected after my nomination was rejected by authorities as I had filed it from a seat reserved for women after other contestants objected to it. I had selected the other option in my nomination form to describe my gender. However, we moved [the] Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court that allowed my candidature as women and now I have won the elections by a margin of 560 votes.”
Anjali Patil won 560 votes out of 1,060 votes. She believes that many of the votes came from the women in the village.
Anjali Patil’s election win is a big win for the LGBTQ+ community. With more representatives in governing bodies, the community will move out of the margins and into the mainstream!
Image Credits: Mumbai Mirror
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