Transgender activists seek rights and protection

Hundreds of transgender activists take part in Pakistan's 'first' trans rights march in Karachi

Picrure source - AFP

Hundreds of transgender activists and their supporters protested in Karachi Sunday to campaign for equal rights and raise awareness of discrimination against the community.

Believed to be a first of its kind, Sindh Moorat March 2022 was organised by the transgender community.

It was attended by politicians, lawyers, and human rights activists, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior, the only son of slain PPP leader Murtaza Bhutto. The protest comes days after the local release of “Joyland”, a controversial movie about a married man’s affair with a transgender woman that was initially banned following complaints by Islamist groups. “The time has come for us to tell people who we are and what our demands are,” protest march organiser Shahzadi Rai told a foreign news agency.

“We are human beings and have the same heart, the same feelings, and same emotions that you have.”

Protesters chanted and sang while carrying placards calling for the rights of the transgender community.

A prominent slogan was “Women, life and liberty” — a rallying call for the current women-led protests in Iran. “No matter what our gender … we should get equal rights,” popular Pakistan classical dancer Sheema Kirmani said.

Participants gave fiery speeches and put on lively dance performances, and also held a symbolic funeral for transgender victims of violence.

Ahead of the march, South Senior Superintendent of Police Syed Asad Raza said that around 300 policemen were deployed for the security of protesters, while the venue was also thoroughly checked by bomb experts.

Elaborate traffic arrangements and snipers were also deployed to meet any eventuality, he said, adding that no untoward incident occurred during the march. The Sindh Moorat March has 12 main demands, the first being criminalisation of transphobic hate speech and its implementation.

“The law of Diyyat (blood money or family pardon) should be kept out of the murder of trans persons,” a post shared by organisers on Twitter said. It outlined that the right to “self-perceived” gender identity should be safeguarded as it was every individual’s basic right. It also demanded a 0.2 per cent quota for transpersons for employment and education institutions.

Furthermore, the organisers urged the government to protect the Transgender Persons’ Protection of Rights Act 2018 “in its original form” and pass the bill. Other demands included the sensitisation of the masses to deal with members of the transgender community and strict action against hate speech against transgender persons.

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