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March 18, 2018
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Transgender community hopes NA will pass rights bill before elections: Bindiya

Karachi

March 18, 2018

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Entering its fourth year, the AKS International Minorities Festival reached Karachi after being held at Lahore and Islamabad earlier this month.

The festival kicked off at The Second Floor (T2F) on Friday evening and will end today before heading to Hyderabad and Peshawar.

The festival, which showcases different international films addressing issues of LGBT communities as well as women and children’s rights, also has panel discussions on problems faced by the transgender community in Pakistan.

A documentary film from the Philippines, ‘Outrun’, which was about Ladlad, the only LGBT political party in the world, was shown at the beginning of the event to later develop the theme of the discussion about political representation of the transgender community.

Shot in Manila, the film shows the election campaign of Ladlad which literally means ‘coming out’ and portrays the difficulties faced by the party, which had a transgender woman as the main representative.

Although the party lost elections, it was remarkable to see the LGBT community rise on the political front.

Taking the conversation surrounding this further, activist Bindiya Rana spoke about her experiences during her election campaign in 2013 in the session ‘The Voice of Transgender People in Politics’, moderated by activist Naghma Iqtidar.

“Our constitution hasn’t barred us from participating in elections, so I decided to give it a shot. I was inexperienced so I did face problems pertaining to paperwork, and my nomination was also rejected before I filed a petition,” she said.

Bindiya contested for provincial assembly seat PS-113 in the 2013 general elections against the MQM’s Rauf Siddiqui and Irfanullah Marwat, who was then in the PML-N.

“To be honest, I decided to go for elections because I felt it was one of the best ways to help communities. My mandate focused on the condition of roads in my constituency, the sewerage problems and paving the way for the education of marginalised groups,” she explained.

However, Bindiya lost the elections and she recounted that the countdown to the day was turbulent because she was getting many threats.

“I asked different people if I could spend nights at their place because it wasn’t safe for me to stay in my own house, and I couldn’t find a home until this woman whom I refer to as mother decided to take me in, ignoring the danger.”

Bindiya added that she could relate to the documentary because contesting the election was challenging for her, too. However, her experience was somewhat different, as the political party in the film had an alliance with other groups.

“But you see, soon it was found out that the elections had been rigged, so I would like to believe that I was the one who actually won, and that lifts my spirits,” she beamed.

Speaking about the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017, which was unanimously passed in the Senate earlier this month, Bindiya said she was expecting it to become a law soon.

“With the elections approaching, I would hope that the bill is tabled soon in the National Assembly because once the election fever rises, one may not be too sure. But our struggle has brought it to the Senate, so I don’t think the day is far when it will be translated into legislation.”

Bindiya also said that she hoped to participate in the upcoming elections again, now that the community was far more aware than five years ago.

“We’ll decide more about the nitty-gritty of the situation next month, but our mandate remains the same, which is education and health for all,” she said.

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