In a first, a protest took place on Sunday in Karachi’s Frere Hall where hundreds of transgender activists gathered to campaign for equal rights and raise awareness against discrimination. This historic Sindh Moorat March has made 12 major demands in total, while special emphasis was laid on transphobic hate speech and hate crime that has seen a surge in recent times. Ideally, this is how a protest should take place — in a peaceful and secure manner. Credit must also be given to Sindh police which made traffic arrangements, provided 300 policemen for security, and brought in bomb experts to thoroughly search the venue.
Activists adopted the slogan ‘Zan, Zindagi and Azad’ — i.e. woman, life and free — in part to show solidarity with the women in Iran and to seek proper implementation of trans rights laws. In 2018, Pakistan passed one of the world’s most progressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act that protects their housing and inheritance rights and allows for the state to acknowledge their identity through the third ‘X’ gender category. Nadra was unable to issue them CNICs prior to this which meant that the trans community had no access to state services. This was particularly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic when vaccines were being doled out on the basis of CNICs. While the process will now take time to streamline completely, attacks and killings against the community continue unabated. According to reports, as many as 70 transgenders have been murdered in K-P alone while sporadic attacks take place across the country. In the eyes of God and according to the law, all human beings are equal and therefore have the same basic human rights.
No religion or law calls for discriminating or murdering another fellow human and such hate crimes have no place in modern society. The Federal Sharia Court must let sanity prevail and work towards strengthening the bill, not weakening it. The government must ensure proper implementation of trans laws while people should give them the opportunity to integrate themselves back into society.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2022.
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