ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday saw the introduction of two bills aimed at securing the rights of transgender persons in the country.

Tabled by JUI-F’s Naeema Kishwar Khan during private members’ day, the bills include amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), as well as the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017.

The bills are the first pieces of proposed legislation that extends any modicum of recognition to this often-ignored segment of society.

The amendment bill offers a wide definition of the term “transgender person”, encompassing “any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the society norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth”.

This bill frames penalties for offences against transgender individuals, and aims to make it illegal to deprive such persons from inheriting property, unlawfully evict them from any premises or deny them entry to educational institutions.

The rights bill, on the other hand, enshrines all the rights endowed upon transgender individuals. These include measures such as the official recognition of an individual’s gender identity as their perceive it, the prohibition of harassment of or discrimination against transgender individuals in any walk of life.

The draft law also guarantees all fundamental rights, outlined in the Constitution, to transgender persons and outlines the government’s obligations to the community. It seeks to codify some of the key rights denied to transgender individuals, such as the right to hold public office, the right to vote, the right to inherit property and the right to access public places.

Before this, the only legal recognition of transgender individuals’ rights in Pakistani law came from a Supreme Court ruling that conferred a number of fundamental rights, such as inheritance, issuance of a CNIC and entitlement to jobs, along with protection from police harassment.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2017