On Friday, the Federal Shariah Court issued a ruling stating that transgender individuals in Pakistan cannot self-identify and choose their gender as male or female based on their own preferences. The verdict was announced by a bench led by interim Chief Justice Syed Muhammad Anwar and Justice Khadim Hussain.
The decision comes in response to petitions filed against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, which was approved by the National Assembly three years ago.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act aimed to ensure equal rights and legal recognition for transgender individuals in Pakistan. It granted them the right to choose their gender identity according to their self-perception and allowed them to update their gender designation on official government documents.
However, the act faced opposition from groups such as the JUI-F (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl) and others, who argued that it contradicted Islamic law (Shariah). They contended that no law in the country should be in conflict with the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.
As a result of the challenge, the Federal Shariah Court has now ruled against the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, regarding self-identification and gender changes on official documents.
The court’s decision has sparked discussions and raised concerns among human rights activists and transgender advocacy groups. They argue that the ruling undermines the rights and dignity of transgender individuals and represents a setback in the progress made towards inclusivity and recognition of gender diversity.
It is important to note that the interpretation and implementation of laws relating to transgender rights vary globally, and societal attitudes towards gender identity continue to evolve.
The verdict of the Federal Shariah Court is a significant development in Pakistan’s legal landscape, with potential implications for transgender rights in the country.
It remains to be seen how this ruling will impact transgender individuals in Pakistan and whether there will be further legal challenges or advocacy efforts to protect their rights.