Federal Sharia Court Case Against the Transgender Law in Pakistan

By December 7, 2023 Newsroom

(due to security and safety reasons)

On May 8, 2018, the National Assembly had enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Right) Act to provide legal recognition to transgender persons and prohibit discrimination and harassment. The law places an obligation on local governments to provide for the welfare of the community. Now, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018 has been challenged in the Federal Shariat Court.

The Federal Sharia Court (FSC) on 27th October 2021 sought the assistance of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan on a set of petitions challenging the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, for being repugnant to Islamic injunctions. A full bench of the FSC, comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Noor Meskanzai, Justice Dr Syed Mohammad Anwar and Justice Khadim Hussain M. Shaikh, heard the petitions moved by Irfan Khan and others.

Since the petitions has been filed in the court, rights wing religious extremists groups including islamic political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, some TV celebrities and the petitioner including TV anchor Oriya Maqbool Jan is also running the social media campaign against the Transgender Protection Act 2018 and also targeting the transgender activists and relating them with homosexuality.

The main concerns of the petitioners were:

  1. The right of self-identification is wrong and there has to be a medical board
  2. The real transgender is the one who is intersex (they are also against narbani/castration)

After filing this petition against the trans law in the Federal Shariat Court case, these extremists also included Jamaat-e-Islami (religious political party) and their Senator Mushtaq also moved an amendment bill in the Parliament. They all have gang up  against the trans law in the garb of religion. 

On September 5, The Senate Committee of Human Rights held its first hearing in the Parliament where the amendment bill of Senator Mushtaq was discussed. Trans activists were also invited to the parliament as an expert to give our opinion. We had a very effective debate and most of the senators seemed to take sides with us. After observing the feedback of the first senate hearing, Senator Mushtaq got an idea he won’t be able to win on technical grounds so he and his political party and all the right wing religious extremists started a massive media campaign against this law and against the respective transgender rights activists.  

The Judgment of Shariat Court

After two years of hearing, the Shariat Court gave a decision in 2023 in the favor of the petitioners and did not take into account the research reports and arguments submitted by the trans right activists.

The community in Pakistan is facing threats due to the current controversy going on regarding the Transgender Law. The lesbian and gay community were always at risk in Pakistan and were never able to publicly reveal their sexual identity but now even transgender persons are facing challenges and their identity disclosure is at stake. After these developments now there is a national debate regarding the transgender identity and the law makers are now trying to pathologize them and want to have medical boards in place to evaluate the bodies of transgender people. Also, they are advocating for conversion therapies and forced corrective surgeries on intersex children through the new “Khunsa Bill” to promote the gender binary. They want to force transgender women to live like a man through conversion therapies and vice versa.

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