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It’s Election Day In Pakistan. But Not For Transgender Pakistanis

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Grace Carr Reporter
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Transgender persons have been barred from voting at a number of polling stations in Pakistan’s Wednesday general elections, a move that follows shortly after the nation passed a bill protecting transgender Pakistanis from discrimination.

“There are reports that voters from the transgender community in Lahore are not being allowed to cast their ballot in male polling stations,” Pakistan’s oldest newspaper, Dawn, reported. Roughly 25 transgender “observers” were also prohibited from entering polling stations in Peshawar even though they had accreditation cards allowing them to do so, The Nation reported.

Their exclusion from the voting booths comes after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declared that transgender persons would serve as “observers” on election day Wednesday.

There were also no resources in place to help handicapped citizens and elderly citizens vote in Peshawar, according to The Nation.

Thirteen transgender Pakistanis filed papers to enter the election at the start of campaign season. All but four candidates dropped out due to financial constraints and public harassment.

Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Transgender Persons Bill 2017 in May, legislating a number of transgender protections. The bill prohibits discrimination of transgender persons, states that they may obtain driver’s licenses and receive loans to open businesses among a long list of other protections.

“Transgender people have been recognized in South Asia for centuries — the gender binary idea came into the picture only when the colonizers arrived,” South Asia Amnesty International deputy director Omar Waraich told Time Magazine. “Sadly, they are ostracized and treated as freakshows by large sections of society.” (RELATED: Pakistani Taliban Kills Candidate From Prime Minister Hopeful’s Party Days Before Election)

There have been a number of attacks perpetrated by both the Islamic State and the Pakistani Taliban throughout July during Pakistan’s election season. The country saw its deadliest attack on July 13 in a bombing at an election rally in the Mastung region. One hundred and forty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded.

Pakistan’s most recent national census indicates there are roughly 10,000 transgender people in the nation.

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