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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday sought personal appearance of the additional secretary health to explain unavailability of separate wards and rooms in public hospitals for transgender community.

Advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhry had filed the petition pleading that members of the transgender community were not being provided adequate medical facilities at the public hospitals. He said at least one million transgender persons lived in Punjab but the government failed to protect their rights.

He pointed out that Supreme Court had already issued an order to reserve separate wards and rooms in OPDs for transgender persons in the public hospitals. However, he said, the order had not been complied with.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi expressed his displeasure at the government for not submitting its reply as required on the previous hearing. The judge observed that the members of transgender community were an integral part of society and could not be deprived of their rights.

He directed health department’s additional secretary to personally appear in the court on Sept 17 and explain the situation.

Hearing another petition filed by the same lawyer, the judge issued fresh notices to the commissioner and deputy commissioner of Lahore, directing them to file their replies about places of cremation available for the Hindu community in the city.

The lawyer had contended that the Hindu community living in the city had been facing difficulties as it had no dedicated place for cremation to perform last rituals of their members in case of death.

Justice Qureshi expressed concern over the situation and observed that the Constitution treated all citizens equally and no one could be discriminated.

The lawyer also pointed out that the rules of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) provided reserved place for the Hindus’ cremation near their residential areas. He urged the court to issue a direction to the authorities concerned to ensure availability of crematorium for the Hindu community in the city. Hearing was adjourned till Sept 17.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2018