The Federal Shariah Court has admitted the application filed by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) to become party to the case against Pakistan Transgender Persons (protection) Act filed by Jamaat-e-Islami. Acting Chief Justice Syed Muhammad Anwar heard the case on Monday. The chief justice asked JUI counsel Kamran Murtaza if the party was involved in the legislation. JUI was part of the parliament but had no role in it, he replied. Wasn’t it your responsibility to review the bill before it turns into legislation? Justice Anwar asked. Why are you raising this question now? JUI’s lawyer said that the party wants to challenge the clause regarding the change of sex. Justice Anwar replied: you are giving reference to the incorrect clause, it seems you haven’t read the act. When Murtaza mentioned that an amended bill has been introduced in the Senate, Justice Anwar replied, did you know this act could be misused when you made it into law. You should have spoken up in the parliament, he said. The court, however, admitted JUI’s application and adjourned the hearing till October 18. Controversy surrounding Transgender Persons Act In 2018, the National Assembly passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill. The law states: “Every Transgender person, being the citizen of Pakistan, who has attained the age of eighteen years shall have the right to get himself or herself registered according to self-perceived gender identity with NADRA on the CNIC, CRC, Driving Licence and passport in accordance with the provisions of the NADRA Ordinance, 2000 or any other relevant laws.” Critics, including religious leaders, claim that the law is against the principles laid out in Shariah. In November 2021, Senator Mushtaq – a vocal opponent of the bill – tabled an amended bill in the upper house of Parliament. The amended bill seeks the creation of a medical board that would decide if a person’s gender should change, instead of them seeking a reassignment on the basis of their self-perceived identity. The bill recommends the formation of such boards at the district level after the approval of the prime minister and provincial chief ministers. Each board shall include a professor doctor, a psychologist, a male general surgeon, a female general surgeon, and a chief medical officer. The bill is still pending.