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Indian MPs urged to back transgender rights

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New York: India’s parliament should enact a bill to ensure better legal protection for the rights of the transgender population, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. download

The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, if passed, will allow for legal gender recognition, removing a fundamental barrier for transgender people toward realizing their basic human rights, including protection from violence and discrimination, it said in a letter to Indian MPs.

“What is at stake in this bill is the fundamental dignity of transgender people, who for too long have had to endure public ridicule and humiliating treatment by police and other authorities,” Human Rights Watch said.

“India’s parliament should ensure transgender people have full legal recognition as required by the constitution and international law.”

While India has made considerable progress on rights of transgender people, most remain socially marginalized and deprived of basic rights, including the right to vote, own property, marry, and claim a formal identity through a passport or other government identification.

They are frequently publicly ridiculed and excluded from general society, enduring discrimination and humiliation from the police and medical authorities.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that transgender people be recognized as a third gender and enjoy all fundamental rights.

The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on April 24, calls for equal rights to transgender people.

To become law, it now must be passed by the Lok Sabha, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a majority.

The minister for social justice and empowerment, belonging to the BJP, has thus far said that the government supports the issue but wants to bring its own comprehensive bill in this regard.

(IANS)

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Pakistan’s First Transgender News Anchor

"There is a lot of difference between the pre- and post-March 23 Marvia. It had to happen. The change had to come,"

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transgender news anchor
Marvia Malik, Pakistan's first transgender news anchor. VOA

Washington, March 25 TV viewers in Pakistan, on March 23, saw something they had never seen before —a transgender anchor presenting the news in prime time.

Despite this giant leap, Marvia Malik, the first and only transgender news anchor in the country, said the difficulties faced by people like her in Pakistan are far from over.

“I am a journalism degree holder, but I faced the same difficulties [as] the transgender people who simply beg or dance in the streets,” Malik told VOA in a phone interview.

ALSO READ: A Tale of Resilience and Courage: India’s First Transgender Judge Joyita Mondal

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
In a country such as Pakistan, it is common to mock transgender people, who are expected to earn their livelihood mainly by dancing, begging or working in the sex trade. Pixabay

The most daunting task for them is getting a respectable job. But Malik said if more entrepreneurs and businesses showed more courage in breaking the social taboos as her employer, “Kohenoor News,” things can change.

“Like other trans people, I did not get any support from my family.On my own, I did some menial jobs and continued my studies. I had always wanted to be a news anchor, and my dream came true when I got selected,” she said.

Junaid Ansari, owner of the TV station, told VOA that Malik was not selected because the station wanted to make a point about breaking taboos. Ansari said he instructed his team to make the selection on the basis of merit and not gender.

ALSO READ: Here’s why Being a Transgender is the biggest regret in Pakistan

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
“We had asked aspiring news presenters to come for the auditions. I got a call from one of my team members who said that one of the applicants was a transgender,” Ansari said. Pixabay

There was some pushback from his team, but Ansari stuck to his decision.

“They are human beings, too, and they should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. I purely made the decision on the basis of treating all humans equally.The thought of challenging the social norms or breaking taboos did not even come to my mind,” Ansari said.

Ansari said feedback regarding Malik’s hiring has been mostly positive, though the station has received some negative feedback.

ALSO READ: Is US military looking forward to recruiting transgender people?

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
In Pakistan’s Twittersphere and other social media platforms, people are praising Malik’s selection, calling it a step in the right direction. Pixabay

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Senate approved a bill for the protection of transgender rights. The bill asked the government to ensure employment opportunities and easy installment loans for transgender people.

According to the 2017 census, there are over 10,000 transgender people in Pakistan, a number some people say is much higher.

In the meantime, Malik is enjoying her instant fame.

“There is a lot of difference between the pre- and post-March 23 Marvia. It had to happen. The change had to come,” she said. VOA