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Human Rights Minister Appoints First Transgender Employee

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Despite the persisting social stigma, there has been progress regarding transgender rights in Pakistan. Recently the Human Rights Minister of Pakistan Shireen Mazari announced the inclusion of a transgender individual as an employee of the ministry. In May 2018, the lawmakers in Pakistan passed a law that ensures the protection of Transgender individuals’ right to legally identify as Trans individuals. The third clause of the definition of who may  identify as a Transgender Individual is not very different from the World Health Organizations (WHO) definition. It states that any individual whose gender identity or expression differs from the social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth may identify as a transgender. This is  a landmark decision that will pave the way towards the steady inclusion of a persecuted and alienated community. The bill also grants protection from discrimination and abuse at the work place.

The transgender community remains persecuted as members of the community are subject to abuse, both by the hands of bigots as well as by law enforcement agencies. In spite of a fatwa in 2016 that declared transgender marriages legal and permissible under the tenants of Islam, incidents of violence and discrimination continue. According to statistics presented to the Supreme Court by the secretary of Law and Justice Commission, at least 500 transgender people have been killed in Pakistan between 2015 and 2018. In 2012 Pakistan’s Supreme Court protected the right of transgender individuals to inherit property and assets, they had gained the right to vote only a year earlier in 2011.

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In light of the fact that the first openly transgender news caster in the domestic media industry has been widely celebrated and appreciated by the online community, things aren’t entirely grim. In the previous elections 13 transgender individuals contested from all over Pakistan. Amidst the countless reports of violence there are reports that inspire hope that one day transgender individuals may be treated equally in eyes of the law as well as the people of Pakistan. The human rights minister has set an example for other departments of the state to be more inclusive.

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