Pakistani minister vows to crack down on transphobic violence with historic ‘bill of protection’

Pakistan announces historic 'bill of protection' to defend trans community

After a spate of violence, the minister for human rights and minority affairs in Punjab, Pakistan, has announced a historic “bill of protection” to defend the trans community.

Ejaz Alam Augustine Talking said the government in Punjab would introduce the bill to protect the trans community because he is serious about the safety of every citizen.

He made the announcement at a meeting with representatives of the transgender community at the Camp Office of Human Rights Department on Wednesday (September 16).

The eastern Pakistan state would be “ensuring the protection of the transgender community”, he said, and asked the trans community to nominate representatives for discussions.

The government is currently establishing working groups to protect the rights of minority communities, which the trans community falls under.

“The government is taking all possible steps for a peaceful environment across the province,” he added.

Zanaya Chaudhry and Neeli Rana, two trans activists, have been nominated to represent the community in discussions going forwards, and Talking asked them to prepare a “comprehensive” document about the issues trans people face in Pakistan.

Transgender people are legally recognised as a third gender in the country, but face widespread violence, abuse and discrimination. Gay sex and same-sex activity are illegal under Pakistani law.

Earlier this year, the government offered trans people access to an existing government health insurance scheme, which was introduced in 2015 to provide health cards for those earning less than $2 a day – although trans people will not face that financial test.

But there’s been an uptick of violence against the trans community in recent months, with two incidents in north west Pakistan last week.

Gul Panra, a trans activist, was shot dead in the north western city of Peshawar on September 9.

And on September 10 in Swabi, a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in north-west Pakistan, a transgender woman was shot dead by her 13-year-old brother after returning from dancing at a party.