Women’s Action Forum condemns attempts to ostracise transgender community

ISLAMABAD: Khawateen Mahaz-e-Amal Islamabad (Women’s Action Forum – WAF Islamabad) strongly condemns the continuing attempts at persecuting and ostracizing the transgender/khawajasira community in Pakistan, through the petitions challenging the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018 before the Federal Shariat Court (FSC).

The petitions challenge the Act alleging that the same is contrary to the injunctions of Islam.

WAF expresses serious concern over the threats to the transgender community that have resulted, or will result, from such persistent attacks on their inherent human dignity, safeguarded under the Constitution of Pakistan, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan has been a State Party since 2010.

WAF notes with concern the possibility that these petitions being entertained will provide impetus to those who carry out acts of violence against members of the khawajasira community.

WAF recalls that the discrimination and persecution of the community is neither novel nor without deeply painful historical context. This is precisely why the Act is a significant instrument in securing equal rights for members of the transgender community. For instance, under Section 2(1)(f) of the Act, the term “gender identity” has been defined to mean “a person’s innermost and individual sense of self as male, female or a blend of both or neither; that can correspond or not to the sex assigned at birth”.

This is an essential development as it lays the foundation for empowering the khawajasira community to register themselves in accordance with their self-perceived gender, rather than imposing the same on them. This is crucial to secure the inherent human dignity of members of the transgender community.

WAF strongly supports the 2018 Act, which is a huge step in the right direction after decades of exclusion, violence and degradation of members of the khawajasira community. Section 4 of the Act lays out extensive protections for members of the community with respect to the prohibition against discrimination, which extends inter alia to educational institutions, workplaces, healthcare institutions/service providers, etc.

The right of inheritance has also been similarly secured for the khawajasira community in Section 4(g) which provides that no person can discriminate against a transgender person to deny them their right to inherit any movable and immovable property.

WAF appreciates that obligations have also been placed on the Government, under the 2018 Act, to establish protection centres and safe houses, separate prisons/jails/confinement cells and ensure mechanisms are in place for the periodic sensitization and awareness of all public servants, including but not limited to law enforcement agencies and medical institutions.

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