A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights was held today at Parliament House, Islamabad. Chaired by Senator Walid Iqbal, the meeting was attended by Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Seemi Ezdi and Senator Muhammad Humayun Mohmand. The Movers present were Senator Fawzia Arshad, Senator Mohsin Aziz, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Senator Kamran Murtaza, Senator Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Senator Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, Senator Atta Ur Rehman along with senior officers of the Ministry of Human Rights.
Matters taken up included the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) (Amendment) Bill 2021 that the Khunsa Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2022. Movers presented their views on the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) (Amendment) Bill 2021 and reasons for the suggested amendments. While there was consensus on the spirit of amendments that were recommended; the Ministry’s stance remained that the matter is sub judice since currently a case against the Act of 2018 is pending in the Federal Shariah Court. The Committee was informed that The Ministry of Human Rights is a party to the case as well.
It was recommended that the Bills be thoroughly examined and input from all stakeholders including religious scholars and human rights experts be sought. It was stressed and reiterated that no law should be in violation of injunctions and teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. It was asserted as legislators it was incumbent upon them to ensure that all vulnerable groups in the country are protected.
There was consensus on matters regarding change of title of the Bill, since the word ‘Transgender’ failed to accommodate those that were born with certain physical features and conditions. It was asserted that Islam had no place for self-perceived gender identity and therefore the Khunsa Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2022 has been introduced. It was recommended that the word ‘Intersex’ be used in place of ‘Transgender’. It was asserted that parents who abandon children that fall in this category must be penalized. The Committee heard the movers of the Bills at length.
Chairman Committee, Senator Walid Iqbal asked the movers of the Bills and members of the Committee to submit names of scholars, medical professionals and human rights experts that could bring clarity to the subject and benefit from their views.
Further consideration of Bills was deferred till the next meeting.