Tuesday, May 23, 2017
In 2013, transgender people in Pakistan were given their first opportunity to stand for election. Sanam Fakir, a 32-year-old hijra, ran as an independent candidate for Sukkur, Pakistan's general election in May. The governments of both India (1994) and Pakistan (2009) have recognized hijras as a "third sex", thus granting them the basic civil rights of every citizen. In India, hijras now have the option to identify as a eunuch ("E") on passports and on certain government documents. They are not, however, fully accommodated; in order to vote, for example, citizens must identify as either male or female. There is also further discrimination from the government. In the 2009 general election, India's election committee denied three hijras candidature unless they identified themselves as either male or female. In April 2014, Justice KS Radhakrishnan declared transgender to be the third gender in Indian law, in a case brought by the National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa) against Union of India and others. The ruling said: Seldom, our society realises or cares to realise the trauma, agony and pain which the members of Transgender community undergo, nor appreciates the innate feelings of the members of the Transgender community, especially of those whose mind and body disown their biological sex. Our society often ridicules and abuses the Transgender community and in public places like railway stations, bus stands, schools, workplaces, malls, theatres, hospitals, they are sidelined and treated as untouchables, forgetting the fact that the moral failure lies in the society's unwillingness to contain or embrace different gender identities and expressions, a mindset which we have to change. Justice Radhakrishnan said that transgender people should be treated consistently with other minorities under the law, enabling them to access jobs, healthcare and education. He framed the issue as one of human rights, saying that, "These TGs, even though insignificant in numbers, are still human beings and therefore they have every right to enjoy their human rights", concluding by declaring that: Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as "third gender" for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament and the State Legislature. Transgender persons' right to decide their self-identified gender is also upheld and the Centre and State Governments are directed to grant legal recognition of their gender identity such as male, female or as third gender. A bill supported by all political parties was tabled in Indian parliament to ensure transgender people get benefits akin reserved communities like SC/STs and is taking steps to see that they get enrollment in schools and jobs in government besides protection from sexual harassment.
Posted by Maqsood Qureshi at 3:10 PM