Some of the candidates running for election in Pakistan. | Photo: Khalsa PEACE & Justice Foundation Of Pakistan
A group who made history as the first trans political candidates in Pakistan will now boycott the general elections.
The All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN) announced in May that at least 13 trans people would run in the year’s elections.
But now they are unhappy candidate nomination forms do not include a ‘third gender’ option. One group in Pakistan’s second-biggest city, Lahore, has announced they will boycott the elections as a result.
A number of trans advocates complained the gender markers on the applications did not have an option for them.
In Pakistan trans people can register as the third gender on their passports and national ID cards.
‘Since our different identity is not being accepted, hence there is no use of contesting the elections,’ one of the candidates, Neeli Rana told the Express News.
Farzana Riaz became the first trans person to have their passport issued in the third gender in Pakistan. She is also one of the country’s leading advocates on trans issues and the president of TransAction Alliance. Riaz is contesting a seat in the election in her home province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
‘Dozens of transgender persons across the country are collecting nomination papers from the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan), but the forms do not have a separate section transgender persons and are being forced to choose between male or female,’ she said.
Protest then court action
Some of the trans community plan to stage protests outside ECP offices around the country.
If the protests don’t work, activists plan to challenge the ECP in court. A group of activists have already filed a complaint in the Peshawar High Court (PHC). Gut if that fails they will go to the Supreme Court.
‘We can protest and then our last option is to approach the court which we have exercised,’ said activist, Taimur Kamal.
‘We can approach the Supreme Court after PHC, but the ECP should have taken care of these issues before finalising the nomination papers.’
Pakistan’s general elections will run on 25 July.