“Transgender social inclusion and equality through legislation: a pivotal path to development”  A new landmark resolution in KP Assembly

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has once again taken a lead on transgender protection issues after member of the Provincial Assembly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Nighat Yasmeen Orkazai moved a resolution in KP Assembly under article 144. “This House resolves that Majlis e Shoora/ Parliament may legislate on the protection of rights of Transgender persons on behalf of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in terms of Article 144 of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan” says the text of the resolution.

This was shared in a joint press conference organized by Blue Veins and TransAction (Provincial Alliance of Transgender and Intersex Community KP). Senator Rubina Khalid (Chairperson of National Taskforce on Rights of Transgender Persons and mover of the Bill in Senate and Nighat Yaseemn Orkazi Mover of the resolution in KP Assembly along with President TransAction Farzana Jan and Program Coordinator Blue Veins Qamar Naseem.

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The media was briefed about the two bills The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) bill jointly submitted in senate by Senator Rubina Khalid (PPPP), Senator Kulsoom Parveen (PML(N)), Senator Rubina Irfan (PML(Q)) and senator Samina Abid (PTI)  and also moved in National Assembly by Naeema Kishwar of JUI(F)  and The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which has been moved jointly by Senator Farhat Ullah Baber and Senator Rubina Khalid and both bills are now referred to the relevant committees Senate for review and endorsement.

Both bills are the outcome of a series of long and broad-based consultations with stakeholders, particularly representatives from the transgender community from across the country by National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) and National Taskforce constituted by the office of the Federal Ombudsperson.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill covers various issues, including inheritance rights, the right to education, employment, voting, holding public office, health, assembly, access to public places, property, and fundamental rights. While the criminal law amendment bill proposes action against the abduction of transgender people, sexual assault and assault or criminal force with intent to outrage their modesty. The bill also proposed strict action against the buying and selling of transgender individuals for prostitution, and against rape.

Senator Rubina Khalid Chairperson of the National Taskforce on rights of the transgender persons emphasized to sensitize political parties, media and general masses on the importance of the legislations and at the same time committed to continue efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination against transgender and intersex persons through awareness raising, psychosocial and legal support and improving the legal environment for them in Pakistan as chairperson of the National Task Force.

Senator Rubina Khalid Said “For all the challenges faced by trans people in the context of their human rights and health, promising interventions and policy progress have shown that positive change is possible, although this must be implemented at scale to have significant impact. Change has occurred due to the efforts of committed legislators trans advocates and human rights activists.

Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) while expressing her views said “ State should take appropriate measures to guarantee the full legal recognition of a persons gender reassignment in all areas of life, The proposed legislations will  address the systemic discrimination that transgender people face every day, and will  give them space to exist on an equal footing”

Qamar Naseem program Coordinator Blue Veins and member of the National taskforce said “Like all other human beings, trans people have fundamental rights – to life, liberty, equality, health, privacy, speech, and expression but they constantly face denial of these fundamental rights because of the rejection of the trans person’s right to their gender identity. In these circumstances, there can be no attainment of the goal of universal equitable development as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Therefore, the two proposed legislations can change the entire scenario of transgender rights in Pakistan”. Blue Veins will continue to plays it key role in empowering transgender and intersex community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and soon there will be more concrete initiatives’ he added.

Farzana Jan President of TransAction Alliance Said “discriminatory and exclusionary environments fuel social vulnerability over a lifetime; trans people have few opportunities to pursue education, and greater odds of being unemployed, thereby experiencing inordinately high levels of homelessness and poverty. Trans students experience resentment, prejudice, and threatening environments in schools, which leads to significant drop-out rates, with few trans people advancing to higher education”.

Transgender activists including Arzu,Paro, Chocolate,Ayesha, gullalai and other said that “in past we were never  consulted in any kind of legislation in country but this year was fortunate for us to be consulted for legislation regarding our rights we are optimistic about our progress to give fruit in shape of law at national level. Measures towards sensitization of school administrations, curbing of stigma, discrimination and violence against transgender persons are also mostly absent currently. We are discriminated against in access to medical services and most hospitals lack adequate skills or provisions to meet their special health needs.

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