Fate of bills on transgender rights hangs in balance


Changing political scenario

Zubair Qureshi

At a time when the parliamentary committees were all set to consider and move two transgender bills in the Parliament, the ‘unforeseen’ circumstances have put their fate in doldrums. After disqualification of the sitting Prime Minister, the focus on the bills ascertaining the rights of transgender community has shifted to more ‘important’ political issues than the rights of the transgender community. It may be noted here that a taskforce constituted by the Wafaqi Mohtasib had prepared to two bills on the protection of transgender people, which have been presented before the Senate.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2017 and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Criminal Law Amendment Act 2017 were prepared by the taskforce, which hopes to get the bills approved by parliament.
According to the taskforce chairperson Senator Rubina Khalid and its members, senators Farhatullah Babar and Naeema Kishwar Khan the bills were the outcome of a series of long and broad-based consultations with stakeholders, particularly representatives from the transgender community from across the country. The movers of the bills said transgender people were part of one of the most marginalized communities in the country, and face social exclusion, discrimination, lack of education and facilities and unemployment.
They said transgender rights are an integral part of human rights and need to be safeguarded at par with other citizens and residents of the country. 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.
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 the purpose of prostitution, and against rape. She said the bills were submitted before the Senate. She said there are two bills, and one contains an amendment that would give full protection to transgender people just as others people enjoy under the law. They are entitled to all rights and we shall provide them separate and special treatment, he said adding transgender citizens are equal citizens and could be doctors or MNAs, or join any profession, if provided proper patronage.

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