In a move that marks an opening up of the Catholic Church in India to the third gender, its social work wing Caritas India has decided to recruit transgenders and work for their uplift as well.
The development comes three years after Pope Francis remarked "who am I to judge" gays, thus calling for the church to be more tolerant towards LGBTQS. This is considered significant as, according to Catholic belief, homosexual behaviour is considered sinful.At an internal deliberation, the Executive Director of Caritas India, Frederick D'Souza, said,
Caritas is open to working with transgenders, preferably if they are staying in clusters, as it may be difficult to work with only individuals. I am even open to recruiting them.
An official statement of the organisation called it a "beginning of a new school of thought." D'Souza clarified that by transgenders, he means "biological transgenders" and not those who undergo gender change.
We don't want to confuse the two. We have an opinion on those who undergo sex change; we are not in favour of that. We believe that the natural gender one is born with is what he/she is supposed to cherish and contribute to creation. But people who are suffering for no fault of their own because of sexual confusion in their body require our attention and support.
He said that by opening itself to the third gender, Caritas hopes to eradicate "traditional biases against them."
Our decision will definitely have implications on other institutions. Others will also begin to reflect on this, he said.
In August this year, the Odisha government had decided to recruit members of the transgender community as warders in jails of the state. M. R. Pattnaik, Additional Inspector General of Prison, said,
We have directed the Sub-ordinate Staff Selection Commission to start the process of recruitment of transgenders. They will compete in women categories.
As per the direction of the Directorate of Prison, members of the transgender community could apply for 185 warders’ posts in jails.
We welcome the decision of the Odisha government, which thought of providing livelihood support as well as social recognition to the marginalised section of the society. It is perhaps for the first time that the transgender community is being considered for the post, said Meera Parida, a prominent activist for the community.
It needs to be mentioned that Odisha had brought members of the transgender community under the purview of the National Food Security Act.