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KARACHI, Dec 14: The Sindh High Court was informed on Tuesday that the application form for the issuance of the computerised national identity card (CNIC) would now also contain a gender column for transvestites.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany and Justice Salman Hamid was hearing a petition of the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), a representative body of transvestites, seeking government support in employment and financial assistance for the community members.

The petition was filed by Bindiya Rani and Sara Gill, the office-bearers of GIA.

On Tuesday, a law officer of the National Database Registration Authority, Mujahid Khan, submitted in court that a decision had been taken, in principle, to add a gender column to the CNIC application form for transvestites and their gender would be mentioned as “Khawaja Sara” in the CNIC.

The medical superintendent of the Civil Hospital Karachi, Dr Bashir Ahmed Qureshi, and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre's Deputy Director Dr Muhammed Akhtar also appeared in court and filed copies of a circular directing their respective staff to provide transvestites with entire facilities equivalent to male and female patients.

The petitioner submitted that the transvestite community members would apply for the payment of Zakat once they were issued CNICs.

The bench adjourned the hearing to Jan 14, 2011.

The petitioners, seeking government support in employment and financial assistance for transvestites, submitted in their petition that they were committed to securing fundamental rights of their community members.

Sara Gill, the GIA vice-president and a final-year student of the Jinnah Dental Medical College, had handed over an application in this regard to the chief justice at a function in the city in March. Later, the CJ converted the application into a constitutional petition.

The petitioners submitted in court that the Supreme Court on July 15, 2009 declaring transvestites equal citizens of the country had directed that they should also benefit from the federal and provincial governments' financial support schemes, including the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme.

They submitted that the transvestite community could not avail themselves of the benefits of such schemes as the government failed to implement the SC directive.

The petitioners said that they were not being extended any financial assistance from the Zakat and Ushr funds.

Sara Gill submitted that she was facing a financial crisis and was not in a position to deposit her fee at the medical college.

The petitioners prayed to the court to direct the government to launch vocational training programmes such as courses of beautician, stitching, boutique, nursing, etc, for transvestites. The transvestites' representatives also prayed to the court to order recruitment of transvestites as Naib Qasids binders, court bailiffs, polio vaccinators, health workers, etc.

They maintained that transgender persons were being subjected to discrimination in all sections of society.

The petitioners stated that transvestites did not have access to employment, medical aid or any government financial assistance as was available to other citizens in the country.

They stated that they were not being issued CNICs by Nadra and consequently they were not able to obtain passports.