Shariat court’s decision termed ‘attack on human rights of transgender persons’

Published May 20, 2023
Transgender community representative Nayyab Ali speaks at a press conference at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Friday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Transgender community representative Nayyab Ali speaks at a press conference at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Friday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

• Activists say appeal to be filed against FSC’s decision
• Amnesty International urges government to reject proposed amendments to Transgender Act

ISLAMABAD: The transgender community has disapproved the decision of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), terming it an “attack on the rights of the transgender community by religious parties” while Amnesty International has spoken out against the court’s decision.

Speaking after the decision of the FSC, Nayab Ali, director of Transgender Rights Consultants Pakistan (TRCT), said the decision was an attack on the rights of the community and an attempt to deny transgender persons their rights.

She was addressing a news conference at the National Press Club (NPC) on Friday after the Federal Shariat Court’s decision to strike down several clauses of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.

She said the entire transgender community was in mourning after the decision.

“This was because the first step by the state to grant rights to transgender people, providing them safety and security has been turned down,” she said, adding that, “any court cannot take away basic human rights from the citizens of Pakistan and this country also belongs to the transgender persons as much as it belongs to clerics and the religious people”.

“They should stop robbing us of our rights,” Sara Imran, who has become a successful business person, said. The transgender community was as old as human kind itself, but in modern times, laws were enacted to provide rights and security to every community, she added.

“We speak of the rights of the birds and animals as well as environment protection,” Sara Imran said.

Speakers said they would file an appeal against the FSC’s decision, and the same should be done by the federal and provincial government as public opinion was in favour of their community.

Meanwhile, the Amnesty International has called upon the government of Pakistan to reject all proposed amendments to the Transgender Act that violated international human rights laws and standards.

In a message, Amnesty said the government must stop any attempt at amending the act that prevented transgender people from obtaining official documents, which reflected upon their gender identity without complying with abusive and invasive requirements.

It also stated that the denial of essential rights of transgender and gender diverse persons should not be guided by assumptions rooted in prejudice, fear and discrimination.

Amnesty International said some observations made by the court were based on presumptive scenarios rather than empirical evidence.

Rehab Mahamoor, research assistant at Amnesty International, said: “Any step taken by the government of Pakistan to deny transgender and gender-diverse people the right to gender identity is in contravention of their obligations under international human rights law, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political

Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to which they are a state party.“

Amnesty International said the Pakistani government should take immediate and urgent steps to stop the reversal of essential protections, without which transgender and gender diverse people will be

even more at risk of harassment, discrimination and violence.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2023

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