LAHORE -  The Lahore High Court yesterday allowed a petition seeking inclusion of transgender community in the forms of population and housing census to be held in March this year.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the LHC passed the order on a petition moved by Waqar Ali, a transgender from Kasur. The chief justice ordered Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to provide a separate category to the transgender community in the upcoming census.

He held they should be treated like other citizens enjoying the same rights in the country under the constitution of Pakistan.

It is the first time in the country’s history since its creation in 1947 that the transgender community having their own identity will be included in the national census.

During the proceedings, a bureau’s director submitted a written reply through a federal law officer and gave undertaking that the transgender community would get a separate identity in the upcoming population and housing census.

In his reply, the director said all arrangements had been made for including transgender in the population and housing census. He said, “A separate code has been assigned to transgender under the sex column. A complete training will be imparted to the field staff to enumerate transgender population during the census operation. Data processing technique has been developed to segregate transgender from the rest of the population.”

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics official stated the results would be available after the 6th Population and Housing Census, 2017, while summery results on which the description of population and housing census would be received had been amended accordingly.

The director said, “The issue has already been taken up and the court order in this regard will also be implemented in letter and spirit.”

After hearing both the sides, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah allowed the petition. Waqar Ali, a transgender from Kasur, had filed the petition through Advocate Sheraz Zaka seeking directions for enforcement of fundamental rights of eunuchs, including enrolment in the upcoming census and national identity cards mentioning the gender.

The petitioner stated that transgender were not respected by the society; even their parents did not own them due to social pressure and stigma. He stated there should be mention of their gender in national identity cards and they must be registered in the census. They had neither been recognised as citizens nor as humans, he said.

The petitioner prayed to the court to direct the respondents to add a column to the census forms for the registration of transgender so that the government could allocate resources according to their numbers. He also prayed to the court to direct Nadra to issue CNICs to the transgender community mentioning their gender.

The petitioner prayed to the court to direct the federal government to make laws for the welfare of transgender community, keeping in view its obligations under international conventions on civil and political rights ratified in 2010. He also sought protection for the transgender community in performance of religious obligations like Hajj and Umrah.