PESHAWAR - Transgender persons on Tuesday filed a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court to safeguard their right not only as voters but also as candidates in the upcoming general elections.

The writ is filed by TransAction, Provincial Alliance of Transgender and Intersex Community, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa President Farzana Jan and General Secretary Arzu Khan under Article 199 of the Constitution Pakistan.

Through the writ petition, the transgender community has asked the court to direct the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that the upcoming electoral process is friendly and inclusive to the transgender community not only as voters but also as candidates.

Through the writ petition, the TransAction Alliance has demanded that the ECP to formulate viable strategy to facilitate transgender community in the electoral process as voters and candidates in the upcoming 2018 general election 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.

The ECP should specify as to which polling station the transgender community would approach for voting.

The petition requests the PHC to give direction to the ECP that transgender community should be given right of priority voting at the polling booths and without standing in queues, take effective measures to train polling staff on the challenges and unique needs faced by the transgender community and direct Provincial Election Commission (PEC) 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 PEC KP to 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 said, “The National Database and Registration Authority is issuing Computerized National Identity Cards with “X” category to the transgender community; therefore, the ECP 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 the election as these are fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973”.

Programme Coordinator of Blue Veins Qamar Naseem who is also a member of the Chief Minister’s Special Community on Rights of the Transgender Persons KP and member of the National Task Force said, the visibility of transgender people has blossomed in media and 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.

Arzu Khan said the respondents have taken no concrete action to include transgender community in the upcoming electoral process in the year 2018 as voters as well as candidates.

The respondents have delayed to rectify/ correct the nomination forms amounts to a denial of the fundamental right of the petitioner.

Gul Rehman Mohmand, who is pleading the case on behalf of the TransAction, said the right to vote and contesting elections is the fundamental rights of all Pakistanis without any discrimination.