The transgender community in Pakistan is celebrating the passage of a landmark new law for equality while also mourning the murder of another of its members.
On Tuesday, the county’s parliament voted to approve the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act that aims to guarantee the rights of transgender people.
The historic legislation will outlaw discrimination and harassment against transgender individuals at home, in public and in the workplace, and by service providers, including health providers.
The law further allows citizens to self-identify as female, male or a third gender in legal documents, including ID cards, passports and driver’s licenses. Transgender people will also be provided with safe houses, medical care and counselling if they need it, and will be entitled to vote and inherit property.
“I thought that this would never be achieved in my lifetime, but I am fortunate to have seen my own parliament pass this bill,” transgender activist Bindiya Rana told Al Jazeera.
“In fighting for this bill, we were not fighting for those transgender people who have already lived 40 or 50 years,” she said. “We have been fighting for the next generation of transgender Pakistanis.”
The bill still needs to be signed into law by Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain. The achievement comes amid news that another transgender person has been murdered in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Dawn reported that the woman, named Muni, was shot in the head on 4 May after she was unable or unwilling to provide change for a 1000 rupee note to a guest at a wedding. Muni had been invited to dance at the event, along with a number of other transgender women, who are traditionally showered with money after they perform.
According to Human Rights Watch, this was the latest of several recent attacks on transgender women in the province; the fourth killing in 2018 and the 57th since 2015.
In one incident in 2016, a transgender woman who was shot three times in the abdomen when she resisted abduction and rape was turned away from a hospital. Nurses refused to admit her, saying they only had male and female wards. The district police also refused to register the case until transgender activists protested outside the hospital.
Known as hijras in Pakistan, transgender individuals face social stigma, commonly struggle to find employment and are often forced to make a living as entertainers or as sex workers.