Same-sex marriage is punishable by death in Pakistan, but transgender people may soon have full marriage, inheritance and funeral rights under Islamic law.
Under a new fatwa, a trans woman with ‘visible signs of being a female’ may marry a male and a trans woman ‘with visible signs of being a male’ may marry a woman.
However if a trans person carrying ‘visible signs of both genders’, as in an intersex person, may not marry anyone.
The new fatwa also declared any act intended to ‘humiliate, insult or tease’ the transgender community was ‘haraam’, or sinful.
The clerics, the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat, do not have the power to make legally binding fatwas. However, they have thousands of followers across the country and experts suggest it will have a long-lasting impact.
‘This is the first time in history that Muslim clerics have raised their voices in support of the rights of transgender persons,’ said Qamar Naseem, a transgender community activist, told The Telegraph. ‘But we have to go further for transgender people and the country needs to introduce legislation on it’.
This move comes after a 23-year-old trans woman was shot and killed in northern Pakistan last month. It was alleged she died after being denied adequate medical attention at a local hospital. A similar story where a trans woman was shot and denied treatment for three hours happened in January.