Pakistani transgenders lighted candles during a rally on World AIDS Day in Karachi last year. -AFP
Pakistan will count transgender people in its national census for the first time when it surveys its population in March this year following a top court ruling on Monday. The Lahore High Court issued the order to the government, National Database and Registration Authority, and the interior ministry with a government official assuring the court that the transgender community will be part of the 2017 census. This stemmed from a petition filed by transgender Waqar Ali last November that argued Pakistan's transgender community had been marginalized and their fundamental rights should be recognized by including them in the sixth national census.
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed the order, issuing directives to enforce the transgender community's basic rights. The move was welcomed by Pakistan's transgender community. "We are glad that we will be counted as will be other people," transgender rights worker Almas Bobby told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Hope we get equal citizenship and equal status." There are no official figures on the number of transgender people living in Pakistan but advocacy group Trans Action estimates there are at least 500,000 in the country with a population of 190 million. - Reuters, Lahore