Earlier this year, Pakistan’s parliament passed a ground-breaking bill that secures transgender citizens’ equal rights.
Proposed by the Dignity Initiatives-FDI, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act prohibits discrimination against transgender people. Gender identity is now required to be recognised on official documents, such as passports and driver’s licenses. People are allowed to select one of three options: male, female, and an unspecified third-gender.
The bill addresses multiple aspects of transgender rights by outlawing hiring discrimination, public harassment, forced labour and denied access to public places. This revolutionary law also works to improve the quality of life for transgender people by fully integrating them in Pakistani society. It calls upon the government to “promote the rights of transgender persons and mainstream them while also protecting their rights.” This includes equal access to education, healthcare, housing, and public offices.
When combined with other recent events, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act indicates that Pakistan is on a trajectory towards greater LGBTQ+ acceptance. Marvia Malik became the country’s first transgender news anchor in March of this year. 13 transgender persons are contesting in the general elections this year. Mehlab Jameel, a transgender rights activist, told NPR, “I heard about this yesterday morning and I was in a state of shock because I never thought something like this could happen within my own life in Pakistan. This kind of development is not only unprecedented in Pakistani history, but it’s one of the most progressive laws in the whole world.”
Photo: Oneindia News