The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Monday resumed the registration of transgender persons, almost three months after it had halted the process.

Following the May 2023 ruling of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) against the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, Nadra had halted the ‘X’ National Identity Card (NIC) registration of transgender people. The decision had received push-back from the legal community, civil society and human rights activists.

In July, PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar had challenged the FSC verdict in the Shariat appellate bench of the Supreme Court.

Earlier today, Nadra issued a notification withdrawing its earlier order to halt registrations.

Nadra Public Engagement Director Rida Qazi confirmed the development to Dawn.com, saying that the authority had issued instructions to resume printing of ‘X’ NICs for transgender persons.

She said the process was initially halted after the FSC verdict but has resumed now that the matter is in the apex court. Qazi said Nadra was constitutionally bound to print ‘X’ NICs for transgender persons after the recommendation of its external legal advice wing.

Nayyab Ali, director of Transgender Rights Consultants Pakistan, hailed the authority’s decision.

“Congratulations to the entire community of transgender activists in Pakistan for your relentless struggle,” Ali posted on social media platform X.

The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) appreciated Nadra for its decision and “prompt response” in reactivating the ’X ’NIC registration process.

“NCHR will continue to uphold the rights of all, esp the marginalised communities of Pakistan,” it said.

NCHR chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha said the provision of many rights was linked to having a valid NIC.

FSC verdict

The National Assembly had enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Right) Act in 2018 to provide legal recognition to transgender persons and ensure that discrimination against transgender persons in various walks of life was punishable.

Hailed as a ‘landmark’ law that offered protection to a marginalised community, the legislation was embroiled in litigation scrutiny since its passage.

In September 2022, the FSC had taken up petitions challenging the legislation — making Jamaat-i-Islami’s Senator Mushtaq Ahmed and TV anchor Orya Maqbool Jan parties in them along with transgender persons Almaas Boby and Bubbly Malik.

Simultaneously, amendments to the law were also sought under the Intersex Persons (Protection of Rights) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which called for the deletion of all those sections deemed against the injunctions of Islam and the Constitution.

In May 2023, court had struck down the law and declared Sections 2(f) (definition of ‘gender identity’) and 2(n)(iii) (definition of ‘Transgender Person’) of the act to be against Sharia.

The FSC had also ruled Sections 3 (recognition of identity of transgender person) and 7 (right to inherit) of the Transgenders Act 2018 to be against Sharia.

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