The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has promised to protect the transgender community of the country and incorporate them in the local welfare programs.
Despite risks of backlash from fundamentalist groups operating within Pakistan, Imran Khan said that the government will ensure “complete protection” for the transgender community. He also stated that he will work to eliminate the prevalent anti-LGBT sentiments that have been a part and parcel of our deeply conservative country for decades.
Before Imran Khan promised that things would be different, he attacked his predecessors for “pretending that the transgender communities do not even exist” and for treating these individuals like “non-persons”. He said, “The objective behind this is that our government is owning you”.
The government will be incorporating transpeople in a healthcare program and handing out Sehat Insaf health insurance cards to them so the community is better equipped to cope with the difficulties they face.
Pakistan has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, and while the promises Imran Khan made might not sit well with everyone, there are people who have begun to be more open and accepting. Just last year, the Transgender Person Act was passed by the country’s parliament, allowing Pakistanis to self-identify as male, female, both or neither. The Act also allowed them to have their gender identity stated on National Identity Cards, driver licenses, and education certificates. The transgender community was counted for the first time in Pakistan’s history in the 2017 census, in which 10,418 trans people were recorded in a population of approximately 207 million.
Furthermore, it prohibits employers and public officials from discriminating against people from the transgender community. However, Pakistan still has a penal code that gives life imprisonment as the punishment for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
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