The Transgender Persons Act 2018 is a step in the right direction

(Islamabad 22 September 2022). We, at WDF, express deep concern over the mobilization of religious right-wing patriarchal forces within and outside the state against ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2O18’. The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has allowed petitions to challenge this legislation on grounds that it is “repugnant to Islamic injunctions”. We consider the acceptance of petitions against this Act by FSC as an act of undermining the legislative competence and autonomy of parliamentary democracy.

We understand that the khwaja sira community is faced with systematic patriarchal oppression in Pakistan. This situation is exacerbated for khwaja siras belonging to the working class. This situation has its origin in our social history and existing feudal, and patriarchal structures, which are reinforced by the theocratic and neo-imperialist nature of the state. We understand that our khwaja sira sisters have been denied their human rights for decades and have been subjected to the worst forms of violence and social exclusion. Enough!

We believe that this legislation is meant to provide the khwaja sira community with legal recognition of their identity, and it penalizes discrimination towards them. Our sisters are entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as ones contained in this legislation.

We, therefore, welcome any legislative, political, economic, and social measures taken for the protection and advancement of our transgender sisters that aim to improve their status in society. We support the ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2O18’ and consider it a necessary step forward toward a more just social order. It should not be undermined.

We believe that this is not the first time that gender equality-related legislation has been taken by the religious right-wing patriarchal forces to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the FSC. All previous legislation geared towards gender rights has been challenged by these bodies.

We declare that we condemn all those – within and outside the state – who attempt to dismiss or undermine legislation for the protection of gender rights. We also reject the regressive role of the CII and the FSC in state affairs. We call upon the National Assembly and the Senate to immediately disband the theocratic and patriarchal CII and the FSC. Both of these institutions represent feudal and patriarchal forces and hence remain an obstacle to democracy and the struggle for radical equality for all.

We condemn the religio-political forces opposing the Act and other similar legislation by the provincial and federal governments for the protection of people of all genders. They represent the epitome of feudal brutality and obscurantism that legitimizes a whole range of dreadful customs promoting patriarchal oppression — the monster that the state has fed and fattened for decades at the cost of people’s basic rights. We believe that until and unless the state does not completely abandon these forces, they will continue to keep hostage the democratic system and the masses in Pakistan.  

We reject the misinterpretation of the said law by the religious right-wing forces, and the controversy created around it.

We affirm our commitment to collectively exposing, resisting, and eliminating the inequities that color our existence, and vow to defeat all forms of patriarchal oppression and violence.