A landmark bill was unanimously passed by Pakistan’s Senate on Wednesday to safeguard the rights of transgenders including giving them the right to determine their gender in the conservative Muslim-majority country. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017 presented by Senator Karim Khawaja was unanimously approved by the upper house of parliament.
The bill if adopted as law will empower transgender persons to determine their gender and register on its basis with the government offices. They also have an option to get their gender changed in National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) records. Previously their gender was determined by board of medical doctors in case of a dispute. However, they can also register them with Nadra as transgender.
In order to become the law, the bill should be passed by National Assembly without making any amendment in the draft and finally approved by the president. The bill also provided that the transgenders would be allowed to get driver’s licence and passport. It said they would not be discriminated against by educational institutions, employers, in trade and health services, and when using public transport and buying or selling or renting property.
The government would establish a safe house for transgenders and provide them medical and educational facilities and psychological counseling. It provided that separate rooms would be established at jails for transgenders. They would be provided loans to start businesses on easy conditions and entitled to inherit property. They would right to assemble and access to public and entertainment sports. To discourage the practice of forcing trangenders for begging, the bill provided that anyone forcing them to beg will be sentenced to six months in prison and served a fine of Rs 50,000.
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