“Gender preference does not define you. Your spirit defines you.”
― P.C. Cast, Awakened
Throughout history people have struggled to safeguard rights to life, safety, possession, expression and so on. Ironically even at this age of enlightenment and advancement, individuals and groups are persecuted for how they feel and identify themselves
Sexual orientation refers to one’s sexual desires, feelings, attractions, practices and identification. May I ask how reasonable is it to discriminate someone on the basis of their sexuality? Or how human is someone asking whether Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights are in fact human rights? A walking, talking, breathing being can perhaps only be a human if they identify with a socially acceptable gender identity?
Pakistan with its confused morality and vague legislation has been a breeding ground for racial, sexual and religious frustration. Members of the third gender have not only been denied employment opportunities and social acceptance but no form of protection is available at their disposal. As a result frequent incidents of maltreatment and physical assault have surfaced, at times resulting in death of the victim. The law in this regard is both absurd and obsolete, with perpetrators often acquitted.
With growing discrimination and incidents of violence against the LGBT community across the world media became active to advocate the rights of the oppressed gender. The world was faced with a critical question: ‘Are LGBT rights covered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?’ The Declaration does not explicitly make reference to sexual orientation, however a wider interpretation covers all human beings, hence LGBT rights are protected by the statement.
Various non-governmental organizations, pressure groups, journalists, authors and human rights activists have fought for security and equality for third-sex minorities, what however has happened is superficial acceptance. Prejudice behavior is deep rooted, not just in our part of the world, it’s a global phenomenon. Homosexuality has long been a taboo, people who triggered dialogue were silenced by social norms or biased value systems, today however generally the world is increasingly able to speak about the topic. The dialogue although has been prompted we are still far from securing equality for gender minorities.
Coming back to our part of the world:
Pakistan has a confused legislation, with a largely secular popular, the Islamic State derives its constitution in fractions of British law and Sharia law. The disparity which is rooted in two entirely different legal systems has resulted in what is the most vague and possibly arbitrary set of legislature, which topped by fundamental influence has made life increasing tough for all minorities. This is coupled with a terrifying low literacy rate has worsened situations. When 2016 saw more tolerance towards LGBT rights across the world, Pakistan witnessed murder, rape and other assault cases. Of the many incidents that shook the world, the worst example of inhumanity surfaced mid-November, when social media highlighted a video of transgender who was ‘raped, beaten, threaten and made to drink urine’. And unfortunately this is just one incident, not one of a kind.
For me discrimination starts at a basic level, when an individual is asked to fill in a personal information form for employment, academic or medical purposes there are limited gender option, normally only a male and female. When a society is not ready to accept a reality, it is far from celebrating it. Denying equal opportunity, medical and health services is the society’s own loss, we are compromising on our assets, undermining them and not utilizing our capabilities as a nation.
I have interviewed and contacted transgender from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and have found a saddening sense of insecurity. Where does one find solace when one’s own family, one’s own people, and one’s own country turns blind eye and disowns you. Forced to beg on streets, forced into sex trade, sufferings from sexually-transmitted diseases and much more is the dark reality of this group. Have you ever wondered what makes us human? It’s our ability to feel. It’s our sensitivity, it’s our compassion, it’s our ambition and most importantly it’s our spirit. next time when you see some who is not similar to you, kindly be more empathetic, be more human, try to understand their reality, they are probably already suffering, your smirk, a rude remark can make things worse. However a smile, good words and kind gestures will make their days.
Author Name: Hina Ayaz