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PESHAWAR: Politicians, elected representatives and civil society activists on Friday demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to announce and enforce a policy for the protection of the rights of transgender persons in the province without delay.

The demand was made during a multiparty conference jointly organised by the Blue Veins, TransAction and Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network at the Peshawar Press Club on Friday.

Noted among participants were MPAs Sobia Khan of the PML-N, Rashida Riffat of the Jamaat-i-Islami and Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai of the PPP, National Party provincial president Mukhtar Bacha, Awami National Party-Wali leader Riaz Marwat, Mazdoor Kissan Party representative Yousaf Anwar, Blue Veins’ Qamar Naseem, Awami Workers Party leader Shahab Khattak and PCSN’s Taimur Kamal.

Mr Qamar Naseem said the proposed ‘transgender protection policy’ recommended measures against social stigma attached to transgender and intersex people and for nondiscriminatory treatment towards those community members.

He said the proposed policy’s enforcement would ensure provision of constitutional rights to transgender and intersex persons in line with the 2009 Supreme Court judgment and orders of other courts.

The Blue Veins’ representative said in July 2017, the draft of the ‘transgender protection policy’ was submitted to the provincial through the directorate of social welfare but the relevant officials were still in consultation with the departments for comments.

TransAction Alliance KP president Farzana Jan said the proposed policy was aimed at ending social stigma towards and discrimination against transgender and intersex persons and creating opportunities for them in every field of life to be equal and productive citizens.

She said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the first province to come to the protection of transgender persons but slow progress on the issue left it behind other provinces and federal government as the latter took significant measures for the purpose.

“This policy can be a major step towards upholding of the rights of individuals, who are vulnerable to significantly heightened levels of discrimination and violence,” Ijaz Afridi of the National Party.

Yousaf Anwar of the Mazdoor Kissan Party said transgender persons looked to the government for the protection of their rights and demanded the early enforcement of the policy proposed for it.

MPA Nighat said the government had been making promises for the welfare of intersex and transgender community for the last two years but had done nothing tangible to the misery of the community’s members.

“I have tabled two resolutions in the KP Assembly expressing my concerns about the plight of transgender community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” she said.

MPA Rashida Riffat said Islam neither discriminated against people nor did it teach its followers hatred.

“Islam has guaranteed the provision of rights to the people. Members of the transgender community should be treated in a respectful and dignified manner,” she said.

Taimur Kamal said the state was bound by the law to protect transgender and intersex persons from violence and discrimination.

Riaz Marwat complained that transgender persons were denied the basic right of respect.

He demanded corrective measures on part of the government for it.

Shahab Khattak said the state should ensure that transgender people could obtain legal recognition of their gender through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2017