The Lahore High Court in Pakistan this week ruled public hospitals in Punjab province must provide separate facilities for transgender patients.
The ruling came after a petition by human rights advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhry.
Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi said transgender persons were valuable citizens. He said the government should protect their rights.
‘A transgender [person] can be born to any family’, he said, according to local media.
He had heard testimony from the health department on providing the best care for transgender Pakistanis.
Chaudhry had said transgender persons were being denied medical facilities at the public hospitals.
But, he said, the ruling would ensure privacy for transgender patients. The advocate said told Gay Star News he ‘felt miserable’ at the fate of the transgender community.
My ambition is to serve mankind regardless of sex, creed, culture, or religion’, he said.
The ruling was welcomed by Farzana Jan, President of Trans Action Singapore. Jan said transgender Pakistanis experienced discrimination and ridicule when accessing healthcare services.
‘We face harassment, bullying, and a lot of people questioning our sexuality and gender identity’, she said.
Obstructing treatment to transgender patients for not fitting into ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories has had fatal consequences, she said.
Jan warned that while the courts may rule in favor of Pakistan’s transgender community, implementation was often ‘zero’.
The government had committed to providing separate facilities for the community two years ago, she said. But, it has so far failed to make good on this promise.
‘This court decision is good, but we will see how it is on the ground’ she said.
She also urged the government to train and educate healthcare professionals. ‘There should be friendly services where we can go without fear,’ she said.
Violence against transgender in Pakistan
At least 62 transgender Pakistani’s have been killed this year. Last month, Pakistan’s trans community took to the streets to protest violence against the community. They demanded better police protection.
Recently, however, the country has been making headway in transgender rights.
In February, a wide-ranging piece of legislation granted intersex people, eunuchs and trans men and women the option to self-identify their gender on official forms.
The bill also criminalizes anyone who prevents transgender people from inheriting property, denies them education or unlawfully evicts them because of their gender identity.
Pakistan has recognized the third gender since 2009. Census data suggests there are about 10,000 trans people in Pakistan but advocacy group Trans Action Pakistan says about 500,000 trans people live in the country.