PESHAWAR: The representatives of civil society organisations on Tuesday demanded of the government to make political and election process friendly for transgender persons and urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to ensure the participation of such persons in the electoral process.

Blue Veins coordinator Qamar Naseem told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club that the transgender community had formed the Transgender Election Network at national level to raise voice for its participation in the electoral process.

He said Farzana Jan represented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the network, Komal Afridi Balochistan, Ihsan Ali Khosa Sindh and Nayab Ali Punjab.

Mr Naseem said the political empowerment would not only give transgender community a fair chance to raise voice for rights but it would also enable them to get the opportunity of grooming in the political system to make efforts for the protection of own rights.

He urged political parties to give political space to the transgender community and acknowledge its efforts.

The Blue Veins coordinator said the systematic marginalisation of the transgender community should end, while political parties should encourage the community by including its members in their activities and decision-making process.

He demanded that gender equality be institutionalised within party structures, processes and practices.

Mr Naseem called upon political parties to initiate a mentorship programme to build the capacity of transgender political activists.

Coordinator of the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network Taimur Kamal, who was also in attendance, expressed the hope that the launch of the Transgender Elections Network would help minimise problems of that neglected segment of the society.

Farzana Jan said the transgender community had been denied rights across the country.

She stressed the need for political empowerment of the transgender community.

Ihsan Khosa said the transgender community had the basic right to contest elections and hold government offices for being a citizen of the country.

He called for equality for and provision of due rights to transgender community like other citizens.

The right activist suggested the government give representation to transgender community in provincial and national assemblies and that the Election Commission of Pakistan make efforts to ensure its entry in the electoral process not only as voters but also as candidates.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017