ISLAMABAD: A taskforce constituted by the Wafaqi Mohtasib has 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.

Addressing a press conference at the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat, taskforce chairperson Senator Rubina Khalid and its members, senators Farhatullah Babar and Naeema Kishwar Khan, said 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 are part of one of the most marginalised 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.

Ms Khalid 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 cisgender people enjoy under the law.

Mr Babar congratulated all those involved in the process of preparing the bills, saying it was a step towards the protection of transgender rights. He said the bills and further legislation would help prevent the harassment of transgender people.

Wafaqi Mohtasib Salman Farooqui and senior adviser Ejaz Qureshi also spoke at the conference, and the ombudsman shed light on the measures his office has taken for the rights of others, including prisoners.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Vice Chancellor said the hospital will provide gender reassignment surgery according to the individual’s wishes.

“We will provide them separate and special treatment,” he said, adding that transgender citizens are equal citizens and could be doctors or MNAs, or join any profession, if provided proper patronage.

Representatives from the transgender community also spoke at the conference, and discussed the problems they face in daily life. They also praised the taskforce for preparing the aforementioned two bills for the welfare of their community.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2017