Events, Features, Living

Transgender Rights Bill Awaits to Become Law

These are exciting times for equality of the LGBTQ in Pakistan! The National Assembly of Pakistan recently passed ‘Transgender persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018’ on may 8th, with an large majority. The bill only awaits the Presidents signature to become law, and was only opposed by Neema Kishwer, of the JUI-F group. The major provisions are:
  1. Transgender persons have the legal right to register and obtain a  driver’s licence and passport;
  2. Transgender persons have the right to get their gender changed within the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) records in line with their self-perceived identity;
  3. Prohibition of harassment and violence against transgender persons at home and in public places;
  4. Transgender persons are not to be discriminated against by educational institutions, at their workplaces, when doing business, at health services, when using public transport, and when buying, selling or renting property;
  5. Establishment by the government of safe houses and provision of healthcare centres, educational facilities and psychological counselling for all transgender persons;
  6. Establishment of separate cells at jails where transgender persons are detained;
  7. Entitlement to inherit property;
  8. Equal employment opportunities for transgender persons to be provided by the government;
  9. Every transgender person has the legal right to vote in all national, provincial, and local government elections and shall not be discriminated against in their pursuit of a public office;
  10. Anyone found guilty of forcing a transgender person to beg will be sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of Rs 50,000.
And, the bill has three definitions of transgender:
  1. Intersex with a mixture of male and female genital features or congenital ambiguities; or
  2. Eunuch assigned male at birth, but undergoes genital excision or castration; or
  3. a transgender man, woman, khawaja sira, or any a person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth.
In Pakistan there is an unofficial estimate of between 500,000 - 800,000 people who self identify as transgender, but a 2017 census indicated that there were only 10,418. This could be due to legal provisions which allow people to legally identify as transgender. The LGBTQ community has also struggled with laws that are in their favour not being properly enforced or being disregarded by authorities.

The bill allows transgender people to be recognized how they perceive themselves and register at government offices as transgender. This will hopefully make laws become more regulated and enforced for the LQTBQ community.  

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