Inclusion of vulnerable groups into electoral processes in Pakistan

May 22, 2018

The transgender community of Pakistan has continued to experience extreme forms of exclusion and brutal trans-phobia along with stigma and discrimination. Despite making vital inroads and claiming spaces for their voice and visibility, the transgender community largely remains pushed around the margins of society and face complex problems leading them towards extreme vulnerability. Transgender persons’ experiences suggest that they are often targeted and misrepresented and face hatred and aggression from the masses which leads to their isolation. This often violent bias in most cases goes unpunished.

In this vein, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Pakistan, displaying commitment to Agenda 2030 and the principle of ‘Leave No One Behind’ (through its Strengthening Electoral and Legislative Processes and Decentralization and Local Governance projects) organised a National Consultation on May 22, 2018 in Islamabad to provide a platform for transgender persons in Pakistan for their political inclusion and to highlight the challenges that are faced by transgender electoral candidates and transgender voters and similarly provide recommendations to the concerned authorities to improve the situation. The consultation proved particularly beneficial to maintain the impetus for the movement for transgender rights as the President of Pakistan signed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill into law on the very same day.

A total of 120 participants attended the consultation which included 70 transgender community representatives and 50 civil society members. Stakeholders present included: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), All Pakistan Transgender Elections Network (APTEN), Transgender Persons groups/activists, government line departments, United Nations entities including UNDP and UNAIDS, international development partners, community/youth leaders, TransAction Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh Transgender Welfare Network, Punjab Transgender Association, Baluchistan Alliance for Transgender and Intersex, Blue Veins and Peace Justice.

The national consultation has resulted in the compilation of a charter of recommendations to promote inclusiveness in the political process for the transgender community that include, inter alia, revision of party manifestos to cater to transgender rights; sensitisation of stakeholders and duty bearers (such as police); procedural amendments in electoral processes by ECP (particularly inclusion of a third gender column and facilitation of voting for transgender persons); and rolling out of awareness campaigns through media to promote mainstreaming of the transgender community.

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