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The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday directed the federal government to submit details of the recently passed Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 by June 29 for a review.

Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza passed the orders while hearing a petition filed by human rights activist Atif Sattar Arain. The petitioner had moved the court, seeking basic civil rights for transgender people.

The counsel for the federal government informed the court that the National Assembly had passed a bill, catering to all the demands of the petitioner. The advocate, however, differed and said that though some of his demands were part of the bill, the proposed legislation missed several points mentioned in his petition.

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The single-member bench made it clear that the court will decide on the petition after going through the details of the proposed legislation. It was the second hearing of the case. In the first hearing, the court had sent notices to Punjab and federal governments.

The activist in his petition contended that transgenders in the society are deprived of their basic rights and that derogatory terms are used for them. The petition also sought adequate opportunities of Haj and Umrah for them.

It demanded appropriate representation of transgenders in the Senate, the National Assembly and provincial assemblies as well as tax exemptions on medicines, clothes and other daily life items.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, is aimed at ensuring rights of transgender persons. The bill, which had already been passed by the Senate, was moved by Syed Naveed Qamar of the PPP.

Under the proposed law, transgender persons will be able to register to obtain driving licence and passport. They will have the option to get their gender changed in the National Database and Registration Authority’s record.

Harassment of transgender persons will also be prohibited in and outside their homes. They will not be discriminated against by educational institutions, employers, in trade and health services, and when using public transport and buying or selling or renting property.

The bill suggested to the government to establish a safe house for transgender persons and provide them medical and educational facilities and psychological counselling. Similarly, separate rooms will be established at jails where transgender persons could be detained. In addition to all basic rights, they will be entitled to inherit property.

The government will take steps to ensure employment opportunities for transgender persons and they will have the right to vote in all national, provincial and local government elections and they will not be discriminated against in their pursuit of a public office.

The bill stated that anyone found guilty of forcing a transgender person to beg will be sentenced to six months in prison and served a fine of Rs50,000.