21 September 2022
By Xari Jalil
Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has allowed petitions to challenge the transgender law, enacted in 2018, on grounds that it is “repugnant to Islamic injunctions” sparking reactions from transgender activists.
The court heard arguments from Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of Jamaat-i-Islami, Farhatullah Babar, a former PPP senator, and Almaas Boby, a transgender. The court also allowed TV anchor Orya Maqbool Jan, Ayesha Mughal, and Bubbly Malik to become a party to these petitions.
A two-judge bench, headed by Acting Shariat Court Chief Justice Dr Syed Mohammad Anwer, resided over the judgment.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Orya Maqbool Jan contended that the transgender law was flawed since it was in the “garb of the transgender rights, an attempt was being made to encourage advocates of LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender)”.
Bubbli Malik, a transgender person, explained the distinction between transgenders and LGBT persons and suggested the court seek an expert opinion before making their conclusions.
Nayab Ali, another transgender person, appealed to the court to restrain social media debates on the issue since three transgender persons had lost their lives in Peshawar recently as a consequence of such heated discussions.
Aisha Mughal, a transgender representative, and lecturer exclaimed before the FSC that the law violated neither the injunctions of Islam nor did it encourage gay or lesbian activities.
Transgender Persons (Protection of Right) Act 2018
The National Assembly had enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Right) Act to provide transgender persons with legal recognition and to penalize any discrimination against them.
The law was made after the Supreme Court held on Sept 25, 2012 that Khwaja Sira persons were entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The verdict came after a petition by Islamic jurist, Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, seeking emancipation of “hermaphrodite children” so that instead of begging, dancing and prostitution they could earn a living by “honourable means”.
The latest petitions accepted by the Federal Shariat Court put the law at risk as it is being argued that it goes against Islamic principles and is a covert attempt at promoting homosexuality.
Transgender activists reject misinterpretation
Speaking exclusively to Voicepk, transgender activist Mhlb stated that the claims that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Right) Act 2018 is against our culture or legitimizes inappropriate things are entirely baseless. She asserts that a thorough review of the law needs to be taken which would misspell any confusion.
“From my perspective, the 2018 law has given transgenders a voice and a platform to share their issues and claim their spaces. Some people cannot accept this and are misinterpreting the law to intentionally beguile others and put trans people and their legal identity at stake.”
“I would request people to understand the law better. That it prohibits discrimination and guarantees transgender persons their fundamental rights.”
Mhlb further asserted that people should seek actual information and not fall into fear-mongering tactics which would further marginalize the transgender community and make them a target.