JI senator tables bill on transgender rights

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani sent the bill to the relevant standing committee for discussion


Our Correspondent November 16, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Jamaat-i-Islami on Monday presented a bill in the Senate, seeking an amendment to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018. The amendment seeks creation of a medical board that would recommend whether a person's gender should change, instead of them seeking a reassignment on the basis of their personal identity.

The law, in its current state, reads: "A person recognised as transgender ... shall have [the] right to get himself or herself registered as per selfperceived gender identity with all government departments including, but not limited to, Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority)." Opposing the provision, the amendment bill presented by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad calls for the formation of a gender re-assigment board to suggest to Nadra whether a person's gender should be reassigned.

It recommends formation of such boards at the district level after the approval of the prime minister and provincial chief ministers, with each board comprising a professor doctor, a psychologist, a male general surgeon, a female general surgeon, and a chief medical officer.

The proposed law seeks a prohibition of gender reassignment surgeries or any other treatment to change genital features on the basis of "any psychological disorder or gender dysphoria". It also states that the law in its present form could lead to the "legalisation of homosexual marriages". Opposing the bill, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the proposed amendment was aimed at "victimising" transgender persons as the current law gave them the right to identity.

"Till date, not a single complaint has been received regarding the misuse of this [existing] law," she added. JI and Jamiat Ulema-iIslam-Fazl senators protested Mazari's remarks, following which Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani sent the bill to the relevant standing committee for discussion. Meanwhile, the Senate passed a private member’s bill titled the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2021 unanimously, while the chair referred seven bills to the standing committees concerned for further deliberation.

The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2021, amended the Factories Act, 1934. The statement of objects and reasons of the bill said that the 1934 act was rapidly becoming outdated and inadequate to address the problems of workers in a modern industrial era. Also seven private members’ bills were introduced by Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohsin Aziz, Saleem Mandviwalla and Shahadat Awan. The Senate chairman referred the bills to the standing committees concerned for further deliberation.

The bills were: Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Amendment of Article 37), the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Protection of Journalist Bill, 2021, the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Amendment of Articles 111,140, 260 and 275).

The house also adopted a motion that the Bill to amend the Provincial Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965 [The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2020] as passed by the Senate and transmitted to the National Assembly but not passed by the National Assembly within 90 days of its laying in the National Assembly, be considered in a joint sitting. Meanwhile, Senator Kauda Babar withdrew the bill further to amend the Federal Board of Revenue Act 2007 [The Federal Board of Revenue (Amendment) Bill, 2020]. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)

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