ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Monday decided to invite religious scholars, medical and legal experts, human rights activists, Nadra chairman and the representatives of transgender community to discuss amendments to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018.

At the start of its meeting, the committee chairman Senator Walid Iqbal apprised the meeting of the legislative history of the Act as it was approved by both the houses of parliament between August 2017 and May 2018.

The meeting also discussed the two amendment bills moved by Senator Fawzia Arshad of the PTI and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of Jamaat–i-Islami (JI).

Senator Mohsin Aziz of the PTI, who too moved an amendment to the Transgender Act 2018, was specially invited to the committee.

He along with the other movers emphasised the need to align the 2018 Act with Islamic injunctions. The Transgender Protection Act 2018 was enacted in May 2018, when the PML-N-led government was in power and the JUI-F was its coalition partner.

Incidentally, two more amendments were filed in the Senate against the act on Monday by Senator Mohammad Sabir Shah of the PML-N.

While a joint amendment by four members of JUI-F, including Senator Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Attaur Rehman, Senator Maulvi Faiz Mohammad and Senator Kamran Murtaza, too has been filed in the upper house.

These amendments have also been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights. The amendments mainly focused to redefine a transgender person as the phrase ‘transgender person’ itself is not appropriate and needs to be replaced with ‘intersex persons’.

The concept of ‘self-perceived identity’ has been opposed as being against the spirit of Islam, as the same does not allow any person to adopt an identity on the basis of his or her own choice, but should solely be determined on the basis of physical appearance or by a report of a notified medical board.

These bills also demanded that parents of such persons would be responsible for their upbringing rather than handing them over to others.

The members of the committee unanimously acknowledged that no law could be repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah and clubbed all the amendments for deliberations in upcoming meetings.

Senator Walid Iqbal also said the final outcome over the amendments would be forwarded to Council of Islamic Ideology in accordance with Article 229 of the Constitution for its expert opinion.

The meeting was attended by Senators Quratulain Marri, Dr Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Abida Mohammad Azeem, Seeme Ezdi, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Irfanul Haq Siddiqui, Fawzia Arshad, Mohsin Aziz and Mushtaq Ahmed.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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