It has been reported that a group of Pakistani clerics have declared that marriage between transgender persons is permitted in Islam and that also have the right to a ceremonial Muslim burial. This is according to Reuters News Agency who say they obtained a copy of the religious edict today.
Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat Pakistan, a lesser known cleric faction in the city of Lahore, stated in their fatwa that transgender individuals also have full rights in relation to the inheritance law in Islam.
The document, which carried the signatures of 50 clerics and was released on Sunday, states that it’s permissible for a transgender person who bears indications that they are male to engage in marriage with a transgender person who bears indications of being a woman. It is also permitted for straight men and women to marry a transgender as they have these clear indications of their sex. What it doesn’t tell us, however, what these indications actually are.
This leads us to speculate whether this fatwa can become a basis for the legal recognition of transgender marriages in Pakistan.
Back in 2012, the Pakistan Supreme Court declared that transgender citizens would get equal rights, including inheritance rights to assets and property, and a year earlier they had been given the right to vote.
The marriage laws in Pakistan remain murky however, as homosexual couple aren’t allowed to marry and male homosexuals have been charged in the past under the anti-sodomy laws. The fatwa on Sunday did declare that any marriage where one of the person possessed both female and male ‘indications’ was against the Islamic principles.
Constantly shunned by society, the transgenders who live in Pakistan and make up a proportion of the 190m population are very often forced into prostitution, dancing or begging in order make a living. Only last month 23 year old transgender female Alisha died after she was shot but refused treatment from Peshawars biggest public sector hospital. Her death sparked much debate over transgender rights and the inquiry reached the conclusion that the hospitals senior doctors were guilty of criminal negligence and recommendations were made that criminal charges were brought against them.
Whilst this fatwa from the clerics in Lahore isn’t legally binding, it recommends that the harassment of transgender citizen is actually a crime under Islam. It stated that making noises, making fun of or teasing transgender people, or teasing them and considering them to be inferior was against the sharia law as this amounted to raising objections against a creation of Allah, and this is not correct.