The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) was asked on Tuesday to prohibit discussion of the Transgender Act on social media because hatred was being disseminated towards the transgender population, putting their lives in jeopardy.
A two-member panel led by Acting FSC Chief Justice Syed Muhammad Anwar heard the lawsuit brought against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018. The acting chief justice stated that the real issue here was the rights of transsexual individuals.
The FSC made Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), former Senator Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and transgender rights campaigner Almas Bobby parties to the lawsuit.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, approved in 2018, recognises transgender people’s identification, prohibits discrimination against them, and gives them the option to self-identify as the gender they want.
The Act ensures that transgender persons will receive an identification certificate, says that no institution may discriminate against them in employment-related matters, and establishes a grievance redressal system in each business.
Furthermore, the law allows transgender people to register with the National Database and Registration Authority based on their self-perceived gender identity (NADRA). Some groups, however, objected to the rule, stating that anybody may register as any gender at any moment.
During the hearing on Tuesday, transgender people sought the court to outlaw discussion of this subject on social media. In court, the chief of Islamabad police’s transgender section stated that discrimination against the transgender population was widespread.
The court was informed that three transgender people were killed in Peshawar as a consequence of the same discussion. The court also heard that hate is being spread on social media towards the transgender community, putting their lives in risk.
The counsel for the Human Rights Ministry stated in court that the ministry’s mission was to carry out the requirements of the law, not to establish them. The chief justice remarked that the main purpose was to provide and protect the people’s rights.
The chief justice went on to say that closing one’s eyes would not cause blindness. Similarly, if a person identified as transgender, they did not become transgender.
Maqbool, Toby Jan informed the court that the law had been approved by the National Assembly when it was placed to a vote.
He further recommended that the legislation be submitted to the proper committee for consideration, noting that it had just three opponents at the time.
Almas, Attorney Bobby requested that the judge include her as a party to the litigation. Bobby emphasised that the Supreme Court had chosen her as the essential person on behalf of the transgender community.
Before the court, Babar acknowledged taking part in the legislative process. He went on to educate the court about the bill’s objectives and legislative discussion. He said that three pieces of private legislation had been merged into one.
Senator Ahmad and JI counsel Imran Shafiq notified the court that a new bill had been introduced in the Senate. No one should be permitted to alter their gender at will, according to the attorney.
This act, according to a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is a party to the lawsuit and is represented by counsel, has compounded a number of concerns. The attorney argued that it was a congenital ailment that could be cured and that the organization had helped many individuals.
Bubbly Malik, a transgender guy, said in court that he has been referred to as an LGBT person, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. According to Malik, “the LGBT community and we transgenders” were extremely different.
Malik requested that the court confer with subject-matter experts. The acting chief justice requested Malik to name any specialists he knew. Malik named other professionals, including Farzana Bari and Fatima Ehsan.
Jan, on the other hand, emphasized the need for a medical expert’s opinion while objecting to the names. According to him, a sexologist could only provide an opinion based on observation; nonetheless, the gender could not be determined without the certification of a physician.
The court then ordered that all parties submit written arguments. The hearing has been postponed indefinitely.
The act of 2018
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, enacted on May 24, 2018, defined a “transgender person” as someone who is I intersex (khusra) with a mixture of male and female genital features or congenital ambiguities; (ii) assigned male at birth but undergoes genital excision or castration; or (iii) a transgender man, transgender woman, khawa
The Act states that a transgender person has the right to be recognised based on their “self-perceived” gender identity and that they may register with all government entities, including NADRA, based on this identification.
It further states that a transgender person who has previously been issued a computerised national identity card (CNIC) by NADRA may change his or her name and gender on the CNIC, driving licence, and passport to reflect how they see themselves.
According to the chapter on forbidden actions, no one is permitted to discriminate against a transgender person at educational institutions, in connection with job, trade, or occupation, or in regard to healthcare facilities.
The use of public transit and lodging is not legally prohibited. Furthermore, it provides the right to transfer, sell, purchase, rent, or inherit moveable or immovable property, allows anyone to run for or occupy private or public office, and prohibits harassment based on sex, gender identity, or gender expression.
The government is required by legislation to establish centres and safe houses to ensure the rescue, protection, and rehabilitation of transgender persons, as well as to provide them with medical care, mental treatment, counselling, and adult education.
It further adds that the government should establish separate jails, prisons, and confinement cells for transgender persons who have committed any form of crime, as well as particular vocational training programmes and scholarships, loans, and incentives to start small businesses.
Transgender individuals have the right to inherit, to be educated, to be employed, to vote, to hold public office, to be in good health, to congregate in public places, to own property, and to have their fundamental rights guaranteed.