PESHAWAR: The transgender community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC) seeking direction for Election Commission of Pakistan to make electrical process transgender-friendly to ensure their participation as voters and candidates in the upcoming general election.
The writ petition was filed by TransAction (Provincial Alliance of Transgender and Intersex community) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by its president Farzana Jan and general secretary Arzu through their lawyer Gul Rehman Mohmand.
The Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan and Provincial Election Commissioner, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were made parties to the petition. The transgender community through the writ petition requested the high court to direct the Election Commission of Pakistan to ensure that the upcoming electrical process was friendly and inclusive to transgender community not only as voters but also as candidates.
In the petition, the transgender people requested the court to direct the Election Commission of Pakistan to formulate a viable strategy for facilitation of transgender community in the electrical process as voters and candidates for the upcoming general election.
It was submitted in the petition that a new column should be created for transgender and intersex community in the electoral nomination form. That will enable transgender community to contest the election in an inclusive manner. The petitioners prayed that the Election Commission of Pakistan should specify the polling station for transgender community for voting. It was prayed that the high court gives direction to the Election Commission that transgender community should be given a right of priority voting at the polling booths and without standing in queues, take effective measures to train polling staff in the challenges and unique needs faced by transgender community.
The petitioners sought direction for the Provincial Election Commission to give special attention and consideration in registering votes of the transgender community. It was submitted that the Provincial Election Commission be directed to get engaged with transgender networks to improve collaboration and know their specific needs and challenges in relation to the electoral process.
Formulation of a special strategy to prevent bullying and harassment of transgender community at the polling booths on the day of the election was sought. In the petition, it was submitted that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2009 had ordered that transgender community in own rights were the citizens of Pakistan. Subject to the Constitution, their rights were equally protected thus no discrimination, for any reason, is possible against them as far as their rights and obligations are concerned.
"The government functionaries both at the federal and provincial level are bound to provide them protection of life and property and secure their dignity as well, as is done in case of another citizen," the Supreme Courted judges were quoted. After filing the petition, Farzana Jan, president of the TransAction Alliance, said the National Data Base Registration Authority is issuing NIC cards with "X" category to transgender community. Therefore, the Election Commission of Pakistan should specify that to which polling station the transgender community would approach for voting.
"Being citizen of Pakistan, the petitioners cannot be thrown out of voting and contesting election as these are fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973," she added.