Friday December 09, 2022

Protecting trans rights

By Editorial Board
September 30, 2022

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani referred the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, to the relevant standing committee for debate earlier this week after the recent controversy started against the law by rightwing parties. The amendment bill was presented by PTI Senator Fauzia Arshad. The transgender community in Pakistan is one of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country. Not only are transgender persons discriminated against not just by strangers but by their own families as well. Thus, it was a ray for hope for the trans community when the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights), Act (2018) was passed and became law. However, now it is being made controversial by the religious parties – using dangerous misinformation and manipulation of facts. The trans community already faces a lot of violence. With such malicious propaganda that the Transgender Act is promoting homosexuality or same-sex marriage, the right-wing propaganda is putting their lives at greater risk and is also an attempt at taking away the rights that were granted to them through this law. The Transgender Act, 2018 allows transgender persons equal rights to education, basic health facilities, the right to have their transgender identity on their identity cards and passports, the right to vote and the right to contest an election. The law was a step in the right direction and was hailed by the transgender community.

It is unfortunate that a community that is already targeted, harassed and even killed because it doesn’t get any protection from the state is now being victimized at the hands of rightwing propaganda. What is extremely dangerous is that there is no proper counter to the dangerous myths and baseless allegations being propagated against the 2018 Act. Nowhere does the law talk about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. It only talks about giving respect and dignity to the trans community, something they have been asking for over the years. Dignity, regardless of class and gender, is a fundamental right granted to every citizen under the constitution. However, Jamaat-e-Islami and other religious parties have now tried to make the law controversial, conveniently calling it contrary to Islamic injunctions, an excuse used easily by all those who want to target anything in the country. We hope that the government and all political parties that were a part of the discussions when the original law was enacted will resist this one-sided baseless attack and protect the transgender community, as a protected class.