The Pakistani Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that members of the transgender community are entitled to every right enjoyed by other citizens.
Transsexuals and eunuchs have finally won recognition following some three years of interest shown by the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry disposed of the case and ruled that eunuchs were entitled to all the rights guaranteed in the Constitution to all citizens including the right of inheritance.
The apex court order said that eunuchs should not be deprived of their legitimate rights — particularly the right of inheritance of all movable and immovable properties and the right to adopt any profession.
The court directed that the judgment be forwarded to the chief secretaries, as well as the inspectors general of all provinces, for their information and to ensure adherence of their fundamental rights.
The issue had surfaced back in 2009 after police arrested some eunuchs by raiding a party in Taxila.
Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, an Islamic jurist and human rights activist, stood up for their rights upon discovery that not a single human rights group or non-governmental organisation (NGO) was working for the rights of this community in the country.
Consequently, Dr Khaki had filed a petition seeking the establishment of a commission to safeguard the rights of the transgender community.
He contended that these people were denied the right of inheritance and other fundamental rights that citizens of Pakistan enjoy.
While concluding the proceedings, the bench appreciated the appointment of focal persons among the eunuch community in all the provinces to represent the community and help address issues being faced by them.
The chief justice also directed the interior secretary and provincial police officers (PPO) to appoint a focal person in every district and tehsil to look after security-related issues of the neglected community.
In addition, the court directed all federal and provincial health and education secretaries and the chief commissioner of Islamabad to coordinate with the representatives of the transgender community in order to provide free healthcare and education to them.
In November last year, the court directed the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to speed up the process of issuing CNICs to eunuchs and later directed the Election Commission to register eunuchs as voters as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2012.