LHC judge rebukes authorities over attitude towards transpersons

Published February 6, 2021
A Lahore High Court judge directed the Punjab chief secretary to strictly implement the Transgender Persons (protection of rights) Act 2018 in letter and spirit by not allowing the departments to discriminate among male, female and transgender persons. — AFP/File
A Lahore High Court judge directed the Punjab chief secretary to strictly implement the Transgender Persons (protection of rights) Act 2018 in letter and spirit by not allowing the departments to discriminate among male, female and transgender persons. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Irked at the approach of the government hierarchy towards the transgender community, a Lahore High Court judge directed the Punjab chief secretary to strictly implement the Transgender Persons (protection of rights) Act 2018 in letter and spirit by not allowing the departments to discriminate among male, female and transgender persons.

“Before parting with this judgement, I must register my displeasure and dismay over the treatment with which petitioner has been meted out with,” wrote Justice Faisal Zaman Khan in his detailed judgement passed on a petition by a transgender person against the rejection of his application for the post of an Urdu lecturer by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

The judge observed that in a conservative society “like ours” the rights of transgender persons have been recognised by the Supreme Court as well as the Lahore High Court in their verdicts upon which a comprehensive legislation in the shape of the Act has also been made to give them equal rights as any other citizen of the country. However, he regretted, in practice this section of society is still treated as less equal or non-existent.

Orders CS to implement Transgender Persons Act, not allow depts to discriminate

Justice Khan observed: “Imagine the plight of the transgender person, who in the first place had the courage to disclose his/her identity as a transgender person, document the same by disclosing it in National Identity Card (CNIC), attend an educational institution (which I am sure with lot of difficulties), get Post Graduate qualification not only for self-satisfaction but also to be a beacon for all other transgender persons and to show other genders that transgender persons are no less than others, with the expectation that it will get the equal status and treatment like other citizens of this Country in all walks of life, but the reality is otherwise.”

In this case, the judge noted, the petitioner exercised the option available under Section 3 of the Act and applied for the post of lecturer (female), but in a crude, demeaning and rude manner was at the outset shunted out of the process on the grounds that the recruitment process is for males/females and not for transgender persons.

“The said refusal by PPSC was not only violative of the constitutional guarantees ensured to the citizens of this country as enshrined in the Constitution but also violative of sections 4, 6, 9, 11 and 16 of the Act for which there is no explanation,” the judge added.

Justice Khan remarked that acknowledging the right of the petitioner and feeling social, moral and legal pressure, the government authorities conceded and allowed the petitioner to participate in the recruitment process. But the mindset of the respondents is still to deprive the transgender persons as a community, which is reflective from the fact that during the course of arguments, one of the law officers categorically said that the respondents were conceding only to the extent of the petitioner, enabling him to participate in the recruitment process, meaning that they will not let other transgender persons participate in the recruitment.

“This statement is not only shameful, but discriminatory as well,” the judge lamented and observed that being a transgender person is neither an option nor a preference, but a recognised and respectable third gender all over the world.

The judge directed the chief secretary to make a comprehensive policy, at the earliest, for implementation of the transgender persons law in letter and spirit and ensure that the rights of the community are protected like any other citizen of this country.

Faizullah, a transgender person hailing from Toba Tek Singh, had filed the petition. The petitioner told the court that he held a masters degree in Urdu language and was pursuing MPhil in Urdu.

Through a short order, the judge had on Feb 3 allowed the petition, directing the PPSC to entertain the application of the petitioner to sit the examination as per the law.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2021

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