ISLAMABAD: After rejection of an earlier bill presented by Senator Babar Awan as a private members’ bill, two more bills seeking protection of the rights of transgender have been tabled in the Senate.
The bills titled, ‘The Transgender and Intersex persons (Promotion and Protection of Rights) Bill, 2017 and ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2017 have been developed by taskforce constituted by Wafaqi Mohtasib and headed by Senator Rubina Khalid.
The proposed bill has been finalised after consultation with various stakeholders including members of civil society, Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice, Social Welfare Department, law enforcement agencies and transgender community.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday Senator Rubina Khalid expressed satisfaction over the content of the proposed bills and hoped that they will help address all issues related to transgender community and provide them enabling environment to enjoy their rights like other citizens of Pakistan.
However, some legal experts believe that ‘The Transgender and Intersex persons (Promotion and Protection of Rights) Bill, 2017 is focused on promoting lesbian and gay rights and contains certain definitions and sections which are contrary to Islam.
Ruqiya Samee – an advocate of the Supreme Court – told The Express Tribune that there was nothing new in this proposed bill but it contained certain controversial elements.
“Under the Article 8 of the Constitution, the state shall not make any law against the injunction of Islam but in definition clause of the proposed bill there are sub-clauses (g) and (t) which are controversial as free and unlimited sexual freedom cannot be allowed under the umbrella of any law,” she said.
She said under the bill the transgender – who actually are born normal but who undergo surgery to become transgender – are seeking shelter under the cover of intersex, a provision available to those who are transgender by birth and whose problem is not curable.
Similarly, castration [removal of genitals] is not legal under Pakistan’s law and Islam but in the proposed act the transgender are trying to make it legal.
“It seems like there is a certain group of people, who just for the sake of promoting lesbian and gay rights are trying to make things legal that is prohibited in Islam and want to get hefty funding by showing they are working for the rights of transgender,” she said.
Another legal expert who wished not to be named said, “This new proposed bill is almost similar to the one rejected earlier; only few changes have been made. The bill seems like more focused on promoting lesbian and gay rights.”
But the Shemale Association for Fundamental Rights (Safar) founder Nadeem Kashish said, “The bill has been constituted by the people who have become transgender by choice and in view of issues they face every day due to lack knowledge about their rights.”