HR Ministry ordered to establish Transgender Protection Centre

By Adnan Rafique

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Human Rights to take immediate measures to establish a transgender protection centre for underage and elderly eunuchs to ensure the provision of due rights to them.
A two-member bench of the court, comprising acting Chief Justice Dr Syed Muhammad Anwer and Justice Khadim Hussain Shaikh issued the directive while hearing a set of petitions challenging the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.
In the last hearing, the FSC had directed the ministry to constitute a child protection unit for transgender children.
At the onset of the hearing today, the court resented that the government was “not doing enough” for the protection of the rights of transgender persons and expressed dissatisfaction at a report furnished by the ministry listing measures taken for the transgender community.
The chief justice directed the human rights ministry’s officials to hold a meeting with ministerial committee’s convener Zamurud Khan — who is also the patron-in-chief of orphanage Pakistan Sweet Homes — for immediate drafting of a report on the building and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the proposed centre.
Secretary human rights ministry informed the court that a committee under the chairmanship of Khan had already been established.
However, Khan said that the ministry had not yet provided a building for the protection centre, which was causing a delay.
“We will take care of the rest of the facilities once a building is provided for the purpose,” he told the court.
After hearing the arguments, the court ordered the ministry to expedite its measures and submit a progress report along with the SOPs at the next hearing on Jan 17.
In May 2018, the National Assembly enacted the law to provide legal recognition to transgender persons and ensure that discrimination against transgender persons in various walks of life shall be punishable.
The law also enabled trans people to be recognised as they perceive themselves and register with government institutions as transgenders.
Hailed as a ‘landmark’ law that offered protection to a marginalised community, the legislation however was embroiled in litigation scrutiny since it was passed by the two houses of the parliament.
A set of petitioners challenged the law in 2021 on grounds that it was “repugnant to Islamic injunctions”. In September 2022, a fresh set of petitions were filed against the law in the FSC.