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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court directed Punjab government to ensure separate rooms in the OPDs of all public hospitals of the province for the treatment of transgender persons.

The court issued the order on a petition moved by Advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhry and also sought recommendations from health department for providing best facilities to transgender persons.

Earlier, a deputy secretary of health department told the court that steps were taken to provide dedicated facilities to the transgender community at public hospitals in the light of the Supreme Court’s directions.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi observed that transgender persons were valuable citizens and creature of the Almighty Allah. “A transgender (person) can born to any family,” the judge said and added that the government should protect their rights.

The judge directed the officer to submit a progress report on Sept 26.

The petitioner-lawyer had submitted that transgender persons were being denied medical facilities at the public hospitals. He said the Supreme Court had already issued an order to reserve separate wards and rooms for transgender persons in the public hospitals, but the order had not be complied with so far.

CREMATORIUM: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday summoned Auqaf and religious affairs department secretary to explain unavailability of cremation places for the Hindu community in Lahore.

Advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhry had filed a public interest petition questioning the government’s failure to protect the Hindu community’s rights.

He said the Hindu community living in Lahore had been facing difficulties in case a member died as government had not built any crematorium to perform their last rituals.

The lawyer argued that the Lahore Development Authority’s rules provided for a place reserved for cremation near residential areas of the community.

He asked the court to issue a direction to the authorities concerned to ensure availability of crematorium for the Hindu community in the city.

During the Wednesday’s hearing, an official of the district government appeared before the court and stated that the government was ready to build cremation places for the Hindu community if the court issued an order in this regard.

However, he said, the matter fell within the jurisdiction of Auqaf department that was responsible for protection of the rights of the minorities.

At this, the judge directed the Auqaf department secretary to appear in person on Sept 26.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018