The Trans community has much to celebrate with Pakistan’s first ever Transgender Pride march. It is an important milestone for a community that faces intense violence and discrimination throughout the world and especially in Pakistan. Though the march is an incredible sign of progress, Pakistan has much farther to go in terms of securing the community’s freedom, legal rights and safety.
The march took place in Lahore, Pakistan on December 29th. The community won a major victory earlier in the year that would allow greater legal rights and protections. For the first time, Pakistanis are allowed to self-declare their gender on official ID cards and documents, whether it be non-binary, female or male. The new bill, passed in May, also prohibits discrimination in all public places, and ensures voting rights and the right to run for political office.
Although they “have been given their rights” on paper, the trans community is worried the government might not actually put the bill into practice, as the government has failed to take action on its promises in the past. The marchers took the opportunity to call on government to follow through and fulfill what the bill promises.
There are still antiquated laws in Pakistan that have been yet to be repealed. People who have gay sex can still, under law, be jailed for up to ten years. Overall public perception is still horribly lacking in acceptance of people of the LGBT+ community.
Trans people in Pakistan are still targeted with extreme violence. In September 2018, a trans woman was burned alive in public in Sahiwal. At least 62 trans women have been murdered in Pakistan over the past three years. In 2018, there were 479 reported cases of violence against trans women in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region alone.
There was a report from last year of trans woman that was tortured and publicly beheaded, after which there was such a disgraceful display of lack of humanity of the people in the town and the government. Her dead body was left out in public on a pick up truck and her body was so mangled by torture and decomposition that she was unidentifiable. The only morgue in the area refused to take her body because it would make their ‘freezers dirty.’ The government refused to assist in her burial as well, so activists had to scramble to figure out how to give the woman a dignified burial.
Photo: “Gay pride 013 – Marche des fiertés Toulouse 2011.jpg” by Guillaume Paumier is licensed under CC BY 2.0