Pakistani transgender women at a protest
Transgender activists in Pakistan have welcomed a religious ruling allowing transgender people to marry someone of the opposite sex.
The fatwa was issued by 50 Islamic clerics and was a largely positive call to respect transgender people.
The ruling said that a transgender individual with “visible signs of being a male” can marry a woman or a transgender individual with “visible signs of being a female,” and vice versa.
It does not, however, allow transgender people of the same gender to marry nor can a person with “visible signs of both genders” marry anyone.
The clerics also said that parents who disinherit transgender children are “inviting the wrath of God”. They further ruled that acts that “humiliate, insult or tease” transgender people are sinful and against the word of God.
The fatwa is not binding but is seen as an important step towards acceptance of gender diversity in Pakistan.
Fata Farzana, President of Trans-Action Alliance, told The News that the fatwa was a historic one, but needed to be backed up by the law.
“Transgender people face unique legal issues with regard to marriage. We at Trans-Action Alliance welcome this Fatwa. This is what we were lobbying and asking for,” said Farzana.
“If the government of Pakistan is issuing identity documents of ‘female transgender and male transgender’ then they should be given the right to marriage.”
In Pakistan, transgender people have a certain degree of acceptance in society but are often discriminated against. According to Trans-Action, 45 transgender people were killed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone over the past two years.
In 2012, the Supreme Court in Pakistan ruled that transgender people are entitled to the same rights as every other citizen, including the right of inheritance.