Statement in response to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in Pakistan
On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, Members of Pakistan Parliament voted to pass the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in the capital Islamabad. The move was widely celebrated by the LGBTI community in the country and worldwide.
This achievement was resulted from years of advocacy efforts by Pakistani transgender activists. The approved Act was very close to what had been proposed by community, including the hijras, transgender women who were not part of the hijra community, and transgender men who had been neglected in the past.
The Act could easily the most progressive law regarding the rights of transgender individual, and one of the most progressive in the world. It recognizes gender identity of a person as self-perceived as male, female, or a blend of both, or neither; while everyone can express their gender however they wish.
“We are very proud for being a part of this campaign and for this collective achievement,” said Mani AQ, one of the activists directly involved working on the bill, who identified as a man. “Although there are a few things that still need addressing, we are confident that we can do more to make this law better protect the rights of our community,” he continued. Mani is currently one of the two Asian representatives of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the largest federation of LGBTI organizations in the world.
“The Act is setting a good example for countries around the world to protect the rights of their transgender citizens,” said Manisha Dhakal, the other Asian representative of ILGA, who identified as a woman. “This is a proof that progress laws and policies upholding human rights of transgender people can exist in any country, regardless of their geographical attribute, political system, or religious belief,” she continued. Manisha also serves as the Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society, a leading organization advocating for the rights of gender and sexual minorities in Nepal.
We urge the government of Pakistan to immediately instruct all relevant departments and institutes to issue policies in alignment with the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act.
We urge the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to sign this Act into law to ensure its enforcement nationwide.
We call on other Asian governments to pursue opportunities for exchange with the Pakistani Parliament and lawmakers, as well as LGBTI civil society, to provide mechanism for protection of transgender persons in their own country, while creating a community of knowledge sharing and learning among Asian governments for the betterment of transgender rights.
We demand close monitoring and support from the international community to ensure actions, including issuance of policies and laws, and their implementation, following the approval of the Act.
Signatories to the Statement:
Manisha Dhakal, Blue Diamond Society, Nepal
Mani AQ, Naz Male Health Alliance Pakistan
Dr. Charbel Maydaa, Mosaic, Lebanon
Shadi Amin, Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6Rang), Iran
Gopi Shankar Madurai, Srishti Madurai LGBTQIA Student Volunteer Collective, India
Hiker Chiu, OII-Chinese, Taiwan
Minhee Ryu, Korean Society of Law and Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI LAW), South Korea
Linh Ngo, ICS Center, Vietnam
Saw Zin Maung Soe, Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization, Myanmar
Shakhawat Hossain, Boys of Bangladesh