Transgender rights bill

Read it before protesting, please

Yes, the current kerfuffle over the transgender bill is illustrative of a lot more than the bill itself, or even the state of transgender rights in the country. Instead it asks a broader question: is the legislative process in our country broken?

First, there is the far from ideal ordinance-to-act ratio of our Parliament. But then there is also the dismal level of interest and involvement shown in the legislative process by the legislators themselves. Constitutional amendments, yes, are debated in earnest, as are some interprovincial financial issues but, by and large, bills are just pushed through. Some television channels, specially in the provincial capitals, used to have a staple of short video packages, asking legislators about the laws they just passed in that session, only for the representatives to have deer-in-headlights moments. Those packages have long since stopped being aired because how much of the same stuff does one show?

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It would appear that few of those politicians protesting the proposed law regarding the beleaguered transgender community of the nation have read it properly. And instead of debating it in the house reasonably, their parties have called for protests. The latter is, of course, their democratic right but healthy democracies are supposed to have such displays on the street fizzle out because interest groups’ concerns are being debated at the right forums.

It goes without saying that the social media, and even mainstream media platforms that the opponents of the bill have engaged aren’t talking about the specifics of the bill itself. Those in favour of the bill want the specifics being debated, but to no avail. A sad state of affairs.

It is up to the government of the day, which finds an ally in the PTI on this issue, to allay the  apprehensions of the religious right. But they also have to grit it out and just pass the bill, protests or not, if the other side refuses to provide cogent and coherent arguments.

Editorial
The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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