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First-ever transgender scout batch takes oath in Karachi

Updated February 16, 2018

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It was the first time in Pakistan that transgender persons were welcomed into the scouting community.— Photo: press release
It was the first time in Pakistan that transgender persons were welcomed into the scouting community.— Photo: press release

In a first, as many as 40 transgenders took an oath to become members of the scouting community at a ceremony held at a hotel in Karachi on Friday.

It was the first instance in the country when transgender youth were welcomed into the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association (PBSA), a national scouting organisation and one of the largest volunteer forces in the country.

The young transgenders, wearing scout scarfs, took the oath at the ceremony and were educated about scouting rules.

TransAction Alliance president Farzana Jan while addressing the ceremony said the transgender community in Pakistan is extremely happy to be welcomed into the scouting community.

"We feel that we are recognised as equal citizens of Pakistan and we are glad to see that the level of our acceptance is increasing," said Jan, who is the only transgender from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to be admitted to PBSA so far.

PBSA, which has nearly 700,000 members, aims to train young boys in first aid, civil defence, camping and hiking, community development projects and emergency response and holds regular camps, hikes, speech contests and other activities such as tree planting camps and peace camps.

Atif Amin Hussain, Commissioner IPC Sindh Boys Scouts, while addressing the ceremony said PBSA "is open to all, without distinction of origin, race or creed".

Scouting was founded in Pakistan as part of the British-Indian branch of The Scout Association. The PBSA was officially founded in 1947, immediately after independence and became a member of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement in April 1948.

"This is a defining moment for the transgender community as they become part of [a] self-reliant, co-educational youth organisation extending to all sectors of the society," said Ihsan Khosa, the chairman of Petarian Human Rights Organisation and a transgender rights activist.