Trans people decry objections to rights bill

Say 2018 act aims at giving equal rights to transgender people

Asif Mehmood September 20, 2022
Pakistani transgenders rally to mark World Aids Day in Karachi in 2013. PHOTO: AFP


The transgender community says that false propaganda has been unleashed against the Transgender Protection Act, lamenting that labelling those fighting for equal rights for transgender people as homosexuals tantamount to committing cruelty against them.

Amid criticism of the law by some religious parties, which perceive it as an attempt to give legal protection to homosexuality, transgender people say that the 2018 act neither mentions any kind of sex change nor did it allows ‘unnatural’ sex.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, was enacted in 2018. The law allows transgender persons equal rights to education, basic health facilities, writing their transgender identity on their identity cards and passports, besides the right to vote and contest elections.

However, some religious parties were of the opinion that this bill was actually an attempt to give legal protection to homosexuality in the country. Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has even challenged the law in the Federal Shariat Court (FSC).

Maulana Fazlur Rahman, an ally of the government and head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), has said that the law is against the teachings” of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and added that he would submit amendments to it in parliament.

Read: Fazl calls for amendments to transgender protection act

However, several activists for the transgender cause believe that the 2018 act aimed at protecting the rights of their community. The law, they maintain, provides for the right to legal action against those who force transgender people to beg on the streets.

“There is no mention in this 11-page act that a man can marry another man or a woman can marry another woman,” transgender rights activist Zanaiah Chaudhry told The Express Tribune while commenting on the criticism of the law.

Artist Jannat Ali said that eunuchs were actually those people who failed to adopt societal masculine behaviour and laws due to their gender and gender discrepancy. Ali added that the word intersex was actually a collection of more than 30 sexual characteristics.

“This means that every intersex child’s genitals are different, and often the apparently male-looking organs begin to change by the time they reach puberty,” Ali explained.

“The same point has been made in the Transgender Rights Act that every transgender person can choose their own preferred gender identity upon reaching the age of 18,” she said, adding that the objection was raised that in this way ordinary men and women would also choose the gender of their choice for their own personal interests, although this law is only for transgender people.

It may be mentioned that the Protection of Rights Act 2018 is commonly known as the Transgender Act. This law was passed in the last months of the PML-N regime when Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the prime minister in 2018. It was one of the few laws that the government and the opposition voted unanimously in favour.




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