6 October 2022
LAHORE: Senator Kamran Murtaza from the Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) says his party is willing to hold consultations with the transgender community over proposed amendments to the transgender law.Speaking on October 5, in the Aaj TV show Spotlight with Munizae Jahangir on October 5, Senator Kamran Murtaza clarified that the religious parties were not opposed to giving fundamental rights mentioned in the transgender law.
“There is a misconception that religious parties were opposing the transgender law in order to deny them their rights and protection,” he said. However, in his view, Islam only allowed birth-sex identities to the male and female genders.
“Our objection is over the self-determination of gender identity that is being given under the transgender law,” he pointed out. “If there is an ambiguity regarding the gender identity of a person since birth, should not a medical board assess that?” he questioned, adding that Islam forbids change of sex in individuals except in cases of ambiguity that could be clarified through a medical examination by a board of doctors. The transgender law does not answer the above objections, he said.
Transgender law not against Islamic injunctions: Farhatullah Babar
Farhatullah Babar, a former senator from Pakistan Peoples Party, welcomed Senator Murtaza’s remarks that the religious parties were not opposed to giving fundamental rights to the transgender community. However, the PPP leader said that there was room for negotiations, as both parties wanted the transgender community to have their fundamental rights.
“The religious parties are confused that the transgender law allows male and female individuals to switch the gender identity of their own accord,” he said. He explained that only transgender individuals who were assigned gender identities of either a male or a female, could switch their identities under the law. This would be the Symbol X and not to male or female as being wrongly propagated by those opposed to the law.
He added that people with transgender identities had been considered as suffering from a disorder but the world had accepted it as a reality now.
“The homophobic propaganda against the transgender law has increased threats to the transgender community in the country,” Farhatullah Babar pointed out.
Misinformation & propaganda behind opposition of transgender law: Nayyab Ali
Transgender activist Nayyab Ali said that leaders of religious parties have not gone through the transgender law and were agitating against the law merely on the basis of propaganda and misinformation.
“It is the result of the misinformation spread by Jamaat-e-Islami that the transgender law is promoting homosexuality which has led to protests by religious parties as well as threats to the transgender community,” she said.
The transgender community has on numerous forums stated that they are ready for talks with those opposing the transgender law.
Nayyab Ali said the transgender community representatives had convinced Qibla Ayaz, chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, and other religious scholars about the self-conceived gender identity clause during deliberations on the transgender law in 2017. “Qibla Ayaz agreed that he had no objection to the self-conceived gender identity in the minutes that were taken by the federal ombudsman then,” she revealed.
Nayyab Ali said the transgender community was ready to convince religious parties that the transgender law was not against Islamic injunctions.
Senator Kamran Murtaza said his party proposed amendments to the transgender law based on the objections made by religious scholar Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani. He said his party was open to negotiations with the transgender community over the proposed amendments to the law. “If the transgender community wanted to talk, we would invite them to sit with us and hold consultations over the proposed amendments,” he added.
Senator Kamran Murtaza suggested that the transgender community hold negotiations with Mufti Taqi Usmani and convince him that the transgender law was not against Islamic injunctions.
‘No need to refer the transgender law to CII’
Farhatullah Babar supported his fellow party senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar’s statement that the transgender law should not be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology as this would undermine the supremacy of Parliament.
“The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body but it only makes recommendations and cannot force parliament to legislate on any matter,” said Farhatullah Babar. He said the Sindh Assembly legislated on child marriages despite the CII’s objection to the marriageable age of girls being set at 18 years.
All three panellists agreed there was still room for negotiations between all stakeholders over the transgender law instead of moving towards a path of confrontation and agitation.