As reported by Dawn, the National Assembly of Pakistan on Tuesday, voted to pass the Bill to provide for protection, relief and rehabilitation of rights of the transgender persons and their welfare. The historic Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 outlaws discrimination against the transgender by both employers and private business owners, guarantees basic rights for the transgender community. Right to self-identify as male, female or a blend of both genders, and to have that identity registered on all official documents, including National Identification Cards, passports, driver’s licenses and education certificates are some of the rights guaranteed to the transgender for the first time under the Act.
The law, which is hailed as ‘historic’ by activists for otherwise conservative South Asian society, also guarantees gender identity that is defined as “a person’s innermost and individual sense of self as male, female or a blend of both, or neither.
The Act is estimated to positively affect around half a million population which is identified as transgender in Pakistan by the advocacy group Trans Action as it calls for the establishment of government-run protection centres for transgender citizens who feel at risk. The law further guaranteed the transgender citizens their right to inheritance and to run for public office, to assembly, to have access to public places and several other specific rights.
The Act which is praised by the activists is believed to be a huge step forward for transgender rights in Pakistan. It is being considered that the new law also provides a base for activists to amend other sections of Pakistan’s criminal and penal code that are problematic or create grey areas around crimes committed against transgender citizens.