PESHAWAR/ KARACHI: The transgender community in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa voiced concern over the absence of a separate gender section for the community in nomination papers issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
TransAction Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Farzana Riaz criticised the ECP for not including a separate section for transgender persons in the nomination papers.
"Dozens of transgender persons across the country are collecting nomination papers from the ECP, but the forms do not have a separate section transgender persons and are being forced to choose between male or female,” she stated.
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The activist added that they have already approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC) but the court has yet to reach a decision on the issue. "What forms should a transgender aspiring to contest the elections take?" Farzana asked, adding that if the electoral body does not take timely action transgender persons will also face during the day of the polls.
Civil Society activist Taimur Kamal said the majority of transgender persons are not living with their families and are living in the cities.
"For various reasons transgender persons cannot go back to their homes or villages to cast their votes and the ECP has made no arrangements to address the issue which will restrain them from exercising their constitutional right," Kamal added.
He also said that they too have approached the PHC and the matter is likely to be decided by June 12. "We can protest and then our last option is to approach the court which we have exercised. We can approach the Supreme Court after PHC, but the ECP should have taken care of these issues before finalising the nomination papers," he said.
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Meanwhile, the transgender community in Sindh also staged a protest outside ECP’s provincial office in Karachi after the staff declined to provide them with nomination papers. The ECP officials informed transgender persons that the office was tasked to deal with forms for minorities and women seats and directed them to the Returning Officer’s office.
“I want to contest elections from PS114,” said Bindya Rani, a transgender person protesting outside the commission’s office. “We will bring real change if elected. We truly want to serve the nation.”