Islamabad: Federal Shariat Court Islamabad, in a significant ruling on Friday, declared three sections of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 as contrary to Islamic teachings.
Acting Chief Justice Syed Muhammad Anwar and Justice Khadim Hussain of the court delivered the verdict, stating that sections 2(f), 3, and 7 of the Transgender Act go against Islamic principles, while Section 2(n) is deemed in accordance with Sharia.
The court’s ruling emphasized that Islamic teachings do not permit individuals to change their gender at their own discretion, affirming that one’s gender should remain as assigned at birth. Specifically, Section 7 of the Act was deemed unlawful as it allowed individuals to determine their gender for inheritance purposes, contrary to the court’s stance that inheritance should align with a person’s biological sex.
Furthermore, the court declared it illegitimate for individuals, irrespective of their gender, to identify themselves as Khawajasira if they deviate from their biological sex. The ruling explicitly stated that Khawajasira individuals cannot change their gender or identify as male or female. However, the government was directed to provide medical, educational, and financial facilities to Khawajasira, recognizing their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
The Federal Shariat Court emphasized that Islam acknowledges the concept of Khawajasira and its related laws, ensuring that Khawajasira individuals are entitled to all fundamental rights protected by the Constitution. The court further highlighted that gender determination should be based on predominant physical characteristics rather than personal feelings.
According to the verdict, if male characteristics predominate, the individual shall be considered male. The court also emphasized that religious practices such as prayer, fasting, and Hajj are gender-specific. In alignment with its ruling, the Federal Shariat Court emphasized that gender cannot be determined solely based on personal feelings, affirming the importance of physical characteristics in determining gender.
Section 2(f) that is declared against the Islamic Laws stats, “Gender identity, means a person’s innermost and individual sense of self as male, female or a blend of both or neither; that can correspond or not to the sex assigned at birth;
Section 3 is about Recognition of identity of Transgender person while Section 7 is related to Right to Inherit.
Renowned transgender rights activist Nayyab Ali is scheduled to hold a press conference today at the National Press Club in Islamabad.
We successfully protected the rights of Intersex and Eunuch identities, but regrettably, transgender identities could not receive the same level of recognition in the Federal Shariat Court.#TransRightsMatter
— Nayyab Ali (@nayyabalipk) May 19, 2023
Expressing her concerns on Twitter, Nayyab Ali highlighted the need for equal recognition of transgender identities in Pakistan. While celebrating the successful protection of intersex and eunuch identities, she expressed disappointment that transgender identities did not receive the same level of recognition in the Federal Shariat Court.
Nayyab Ali shared that the Federal Shariat Court recently suspended the immediate effect of the Transgender Protection of Rights Act 2018 in Pakistan.
Nayyab Ali’s press conference is expected to shed light on the implications of the Federal Shariat Court’s decision and the future course of action for safeguarding the rights of transgender individuals in Pakistan.