Pakistani clerics issue decree on transgender rights under Islamic law

On July 1, 2016 the Los Angeles Times reported:

Pakistan FlagFifty clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwa, or religious decree, saying that transgender people can marry under Islamic law — but only if they do not have “visible signs of both genders.”

The clerics, affiliated with the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat religious law organization based in Lahore, said that a transgender person with “visible signs of being a male” can marry a nontransgender woman, or a transgender woman with “visible signs of being a female.” But a transgender person with “visible signs of both genders” cannot marry anyone, the fatwa stipulated.

The decree also said that transgender people must not be deprived their share of inheritance, and said it was sinful to humiliate, insult or tease people for being transgender.

The two-page decree, which is in no way legally binding, ended by saying that all funeral rituals for a transgender person would be the same as for any other Muslim man or woman.

Transgender people are among the most marginalized groups in Pakistan. Being transgender is treated as taboo subject, and in many cases, transgender individuals are deprived of their legal rights to marriage, inheritance and a normal burial.

Last month, a young transgender woman named Alisha was shot eight times, and died after hospital staff took an hour to decide whether to put her in male or female ward.

Pakistan’s transgender community and activists cautiously welcomed the decree, saying it was a breath of fresh air, but that it would hardly change their day-to-day reality.

“This decree is not legally binding and will hardly make a difference. But we are happy that somebody talked about us, too,” said Farzana Naz, the Peshawar-based president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of Trans Action Alliance, a transgender advocacy group. “The real issue is the marriage of the transgender person carrying ‘visible signs of both genders,’ and the decree disapproving of their marriage.”

She said that attitudes still needed to change. “There have been decrees in favor of transgender people for centuries, but torture and humiliation have not been ended. We want the state to treat us normal citizens.”

Read more at: Pakistani clerics issue decree on transgender rights under Islamic law – LA Times

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