Civil Society for immediate legislation for the protection of transgender rights

A group of civil society organizations have today called on politicians to consider the human rights of transgender and intersex people as the two bills are tabled in the Senate while one in the National Assembly of Pakistan.

Blue Veins and TransAction Alliance in collaboration with Sindh Transgender Network (STN), Baluchistan Alliance for Transgender and Intersex Community (BATIC), PHRO Sindh and Forum for Dignity Initiatives (FDI) has organized a consultative workshop in Islamabad on 3rd August 2017 to chalk out the advocacy plan to support the two bills The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017 jointly submitted in senate by Senator Rubina Khalid (PPPP), Senator Kulsoom Parveen (PML(N)), Senator Rubina Irfan (PML(Q)) and senator Samina Abid (PTI)  and also moved in National Assembly by Naeema Kishwar of JUI(F)  and The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which has been moved jointly be Senator Farhatullah Baber and Senator Rubina Khalid.

Both bills are the outcome of a series of long and broad-based consultations with stakeholders, particularly representatives from the transgender community from across the country by National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) and National Task Force constituted by the office of the Federal Ombudsperson.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill covers various issues, including inheritance rights, the right to education, employment, voting, holding public office, health, assembly, access to public places, property, and fundamental rights. While the criminal law amendment bill proposes action against the abduction of transgender people, sexual assault and assault or criminal force with intent to outrage their modesty. The bill also proposed strict action against the buying and selling of transgender individuals for prostitution, and against rape.

The participants of the consultation empathized to sensitize political parties ,media and general masses on the importance of the legislation and at the same time they committed  to continue efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination against transgender and intersex persons through awareness raising, psycho-social and legal support and improving the legal environment for them in Pakistan. For all the challenges faced by trans people in the context of their human rights and health, promising interventions and policy progress have shown that positive change is possible, although this must be implemented at scale to have significant impact. Change has occurred due to the efforts of trans advocates and human rights champions, often in critical alliances with civil society supporters as well as sensitized judiciaries, legislatures, bureaucrats, and health sector functionaries.

Qamar Naseem program Coordinator Blue Veins and member of the National Task Force said “Like all other human beings, trans people have fundamental rights – to life, liberty, equality, health, privacy, speech, and expression but they constantly face denial of these fundamental rights because of the rejection of the trans person’s right to their gender identity. In these circumstances, there can be no attainment of the goal of universal equitable development as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Therefore, the two proposed legislation can change the entire scenario of transgender rights in Pakistan.

Farzana Jan President of TransAction Alliance Said “discriminatory and exclusionary environments fuel social vulnerability over a lifetime; trans people have few opportunities to pursue education, and greater odds of being unemployed, thereby experiencing inordinately high levels of homelessness and poverty . Trans students experience resentment, prejudice, and threatening environments in schools , which leads to significant drop-out rates, with few trans people advancing to higher education”.

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