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Transgender persons’ bill: Senate panel summons CII chief to clarify objections

Transgender persons’ bill: Senate panel summons CII chief to clarify objections

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has raised objections to various portions of the amendment bill on transgender persons including the section related to definition of the third gender as a parliamentary panel has summoned the advisory body’s chairperson to clarify their point.

“You are supporting some sections of the bill and opposing many,” the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairperson Rehman Malik told a senior official of the CII on Tuesday, adding that confusion was needed to be removed on the subject matter.

The Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Rights of Transgender Persons) Bill 2017 is pending with this committee for the last few years while the CII, which remained headless for about a year, has yet to give a clear verdict on the matter.
Malik was chairing the meeting of the committee which was briefed by senior CII research officer Ghulam Dastagir on the decision of the council.

The bill was taken up at the CII meeting on January 17 where members not only disagreed with the definition of transgender persons but also objected to not mentioning anything about punishments for such persons when they commit ‘crimes’.

According to the bill, any person is a transgender person who is intersex with mixture of male and female genital features or congenital ambiguities or someone who is a male but undergoes genital excision or castration.

The CII says definition of a transgender ‘is not comprehensive’ and the bill “seeks to declare non-transgender persons as eunuchs.” There is no clear-cut way in the bill for identification of such people.

The advisory body says the section mentions of ‘genital excision’ or ‘castration’ as if it is ‘okay’ to undergo such surgeries despite the fact that such ‘wicked act must be declared illegal’. The CII has also given its own definition of a transgender person.

Responding to the CII objections, Malik said the decision of CII was creating confusion rather than giving a clear viewpoint. “I am sorry but this [exposition by the CII] is unsatisfactory.”

Senator Rubina Khalid, mover of the bill, said why there was a need to define or medically check identity of a person who is claiming to belong to a particular sex. “Medical checkups can only be ordered on the orders of the court and in matters related to finances,” she said, obviously irked by the CII’s objections.

Barrister Ali Khan Saif said globally such issues were being dealt with lenses of religion. “Just draft the law and then share it with them if they have any objection,” he added.

The committee also decided to hold a joint meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Human Rights on the said bill and then decide whether it should be passed or referred to the House.

The Transgender Task Force Chairperson at Federal Ombudsman Syeda Viqarun Nisa, who has drafted this bill, was also directed that the next time she should come up with decisions of the apex court on such issues.

The committee also prayed for families of victims of recent terrorist attacks. “Terrorists must know that such cowardly attacks cannot deter nation’s resolve against terrorism,” Malik said.

The committee expressed sorrow over death of 16 Pakistanis off the Libyan coast due to capsizing of boat and directed ministry of interior and overseas Pakistanis to update the forum in the next meeting.

The chairperson also called upon the government to move an amendment in the Immigration Ordinance of 1979 immediately to ensure stringent punishment to human smugglers and directed the Ministry of interior to initiate a severe crackdown against them countrywide.

The Express Tribune

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