Transgender activists demand equal rights, protection in Pakistan’s ‘first’ trans rights march in Karachi

Published November 20, 2022
<p>Hundreds of transgender activists gathered at the Frere Hall in Karachi on Sunday. — Photo by Imtiaz Ali</p>

Hundreds of transgender activists gathered at the Frere Hall in Karachi on Sunday. — Photo by Imtiaz Ali

Hundreds of transgender activists gathered at Karachi’s Frere Hall on Sunday to campaign for equal rights and raise awareness of discrimination against their community.

Believed to be a first of its kind, Sindh Moorat March 2022 was organised by the transgender community. It was attended by politicians, lawyers, and human rights activists, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior, the only son of slain PPP leader Murtaza Bhutto.

The protest — which began at 1pm — saw hundreds of people carrying placards and chanting slogans calling for the rights of the transgender community.

“This is Pakistan’s first trans rights march,” Shehzadi Rai, a protest march organiser, told Dawn.com.

She said today’s protest was a part of the global march being observed by transpersons on November 20. “On this day we remember all the transpersons who were brutally killed.”

The activist told Dawn.com that the main aim of the march was the implementation of the trans rights law. “This year, we have adopted the slogan of ‘Zan, Zindagi and Azad’ (woman, life and free) to show solidarity with women in Iran,” she added.

Ahead of the march, South Senior Superintendent of Police Syed Asad Raza told Dawn.com that around 300 policemen were deployed for the security of protesters, while the venue was also thoroughly checked by bomb experts.

Elaborate traffic arrangements and snipers were also deployed to meet any eventuality, he said, adding that no untoward incident occurred during the march.

Demands

The Sindh Moorat March has 12 main demands, the first being criminalisation of transphobic hate speech and its implementation.

“The law of Diyyat (blood money or family pardon) should be kept out of the murder of trans persons,” a post shared by organisers on Twitter said. It outlined that the right to “self-perceived” gender identity should be safeguarded as it was every individual’s basic right.

It also demanded a 0.2 per cent quota for transpersons for employment and education institutions.

Furthermore, the organisers urged the government to protect the Transgender Persons’ Protection of Rights Act 2018 “in its original form” and pass the bill.

Other demands included the sensitisation of the masses to deal with members of the transgender community and strict action against hate speech and misinformation against transgender persons.

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