Transgender Citizens Gain Fundamental Rights in Pakistan

Pakistan’s parliament on May 8 passed a bill ensuring fundamental rights for transgender citizens. This is huge news!

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act  will ensure that members of the transgender community in Pakistan have the right to have their chosen gender identity officially recognized on government documents such as passports, driver’s licenses and national identity cards.

In addition the new law would prohibit discrimination at work, on public modes of transport, in schools and while receiving medical care.

The fate of this historic bill now lies with Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain. We’ll wait to see whether he will sign the bill, but in any case this is a huge step forward for activists such as Mehlab Jameel who have been working hard for such a law.

“This kind of development is not only unprecedented in Pakistani history, but it’s one of the most progressive laws in the whole world,” Jameel told NPR.

How do other countries line up in terms of their protection of transgender people?

According to the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, 20 countries have passed legislation recognizing the rights of transgender people.

All of these countries are, of course, way ahead of the United States. Here’s a snapshot of a few of them:

In 2014, the government of Denmark made it legal for transgender people over the age of 18 to determine their own gender, without any medical intervention. According to Transgender Europe, Denmark was the only European country at that time not requiring any kind of psychiatric or medical certificate for a transgender person to make this declaration.

Denmark was following the lead of Argentina. In 2012, that country’s Senate passed the Gender Identity Law which made sex-change surgery a legal right.

The island of Malta, situated in the Mediterranean south of Sicily, adopted the Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics Act in 2015. The law was intended “[to provide] a simplified procedure which respects the privacy of the person requesting that one’s official documents be changed to reflect the person’s gender.” 

In addition, people “shall not be required to provide proof of a surgical procedure for total or partial genital reassignment, hormonal therapies or any other psychiatric, psychological or medical treatment,” the law stated.

Transgender people also gained legal rights in India in 2014, when the Supreme Court gave the country’s “hijra,” or transgender people, as well as third-gender people, the right to declare their gender without sex reassignment surgery.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Trump plans to get rid of an Obama-era rule ensuring that doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies do not discriminate against transgender people. And ”bathroom bills” keep popping up in Republican-leaning state legislatures. 

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress. It was exciting news when Danica Roem made history last November, being elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates and becoming the only openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature anywhere in America. But it’s safe to say we still have a long way to go when it comes to trans rights in the U.S.

Writing in November 2017, Care2′s Steve Williams reminded us that “At least 25 transgender people have been killed in the United States since the beginning of 2017. Eighty-four percent of them were people of color, and 80 percent were women. More than three in four were under the age of 35.”

Pakistan is no different. Penalties for discrimination are not included in this new legislation and corruption is rampant in the country.

And yet, a necessary first step toward changing the social stigma and risks that transgenders face is to change the law. It is only after this that progress will be made, even if it is slow.

So while Jameel agrees that much more needs to be accomplished in her home country, she points out that “It’s a step in the right direction.”

Image credit: sweetone via Flickr

43 comments

Sabrina D
Sabrina D2 months ago

Great...

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Roberto M
Roberto MARINI2 months ago

interesting news thanks

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Leo C
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Carol C
Carol C3 months ago

Thank you for posting this good news. We are in great need of a little hope.

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Tania N
Tania N3 months ago

Thank you.

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Tania N
Tania N3 months ago

Thank you.

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Tania N
Tania N3 months ago

Thank you.

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Tania N
Tania N3 months ago

Thank you.

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming3 months ago

Live and let live , The world would be a better place if we could just live in peace .

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