Bangladesh: Lawmakers demand more rights for third gender hijra groups

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Lawmakers in Bangladesh have called for more rights for hijra groups, following the marking of one year since the government recognised them as a third gender.

Last November, in a landmark decision, the government in Bangladesh approved a proposal of the social welfare ministry to identify “Hijra” as a third possible gender identity.

Hijra, often subsumed under the trans umbrella in the West, is a South Asian feminine gender identity. It is sometimes – but not always – adopted by intersex people.

MP Tarana Halim told the independent: “The hijras are not only deprived of their family property, they can’t even claim it as there is no law in the country for the purpose.

“I recommend, if the law is enacted, it must let them choose if they want to inherit their part of the family property as a male heir or a female one.

‘While enacting law for the hijra community we should keep in mind that the law must not limit their human rights.”

AKM Nurun Nabi, vice chancellor of Begum Rokeya University, has also called for setting up schools for hijras.

“There should be a counsellor in every school who will be counselling the hijra students and also other students to make them accept the hijras as their normal schoolmates.”

At least 1,000 hijras led Bangladesh’s first ever Pride march on Monday.

Pakistan allowed hijra a third gender category back in 2011.

In September last year, gay rights groups criticised the government in Bangladesh for refusing to decriminalise same-sex relationships, despite recommendations by the United Nations to do so.