PESHAWAR:(APS) February 13, 2018 – A writ petition against Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan and Provincial Election Commissioner, KP is filed by the transgender community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The writ is filed by Farzana Jan, President and Arzu Khan, General Secretary of TransAction (Provincial Alliance of Transgender and Intersex Community), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Through the writ petition, the transgender community has asked the court to direct Election Commission of Pakistan to ensure that the upcoming electoral process is friendly and inclusive to transgender community not only as voters but also as candidates. Through the writ petition, the TransAction Alliance has demanded that Election Commission of Pakistan must formulate viable strategy to facilitate transgender community in the electoral process as voters and candidates in upcoming 2018 General Elections and create a column of transgender and intersex community in the electoral nomination form so that transgender community is also able to contest election in an inclusive manner. Election Commission of Pakistan should specify as to which polling station the transgender community would approach for voting.
The petition requests the Honorable High Court to give direction to the Election Commission of Pakistan that transgender community should be given a right of priority voting at the polling booths and without standing in ques, take effective measures to train polling staff on the challenges and unique needs faced by the transgender community and Direct Provincial Election Commission offices to give special attention and consideration in registering votes of the transgender community.
The transgender community through the writ petition has demanded that the Provincial Election Commission (KP) engage with transgender networks and organizations to improve collaboration and know their specific needs and challenges in relation to the electoral process and must formulate a special strategy to prevent bullying and harassment of transgender community at polling booths on the day of the election.
Farzana Jan, President of the TransAction Alliance said, “The National Database & Registration Authority is issuing Computerized National Identity Cards with “X” category to transgender community; therefore, the Election Commission of Pakistan should specify as to which polling station the transgender community would approach for voting”. Farzana Jan further said, “Being citizens of Pakistan, the petitioners cannot be thrown-out from voting and contesting election as these are fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973”.
Qamar Naseem, Program Coordinator of Blue Veins, who is also member of the Chief Minister’s Special Community on Rights of the Transgender Persons KP and member of the National Task Force said, “While the visibility of transgender people has blossomed in the media, transgender leaders remain close to invisible in public office. But these breakthroughs for trans people in the media are not reflected in everyday society. The political empowerment of transgender community will not only give them a fair chance to be their own voice, but also bring their best out in the form of representatives to hold offices, which will groom them as political workers. The political parties are also requested to give them space and acknowledge their efforts. Once this community is groomed, it will be an asset for the country”.
Arzu Khan, General Secretary of the TranAction Alliance said, “The respondents have taken no concrete actions to include transgender community in the upcoming electoral process in the year 2018 as voters as well as candidates and that delay by respondents to rectify / correct the nomination forms amounts to denial of the fundamental right of the petitioner.
Taimur Kamal, Coordinator of the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network said, “The petitioners are not treated in accordance with law; thus, respondents are violating the fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed by the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973”
Gul Rehman Mohmand, Advocate, Peshawar High Court who is pleading the case on behalf of the TransAction said, “Right to vote and contesting elections is the fundamental rights of all Pakistanis without any discrimination. I am hopeful that the transgender community will get justice and relief from the Court and their fundamental rights will be protected as per constitution of Pakistan”.