Fifty top Pakistani clerics have issued a religious decree declaring that transgender people have full marriage, inheritance and funeral rights under Islamic law.
The fatwa stated that a female-born transgender person having “visible signs of being a male” may marry a woman or a male-born transgender with “visible signs of being a female”, and vice versa.
However, it ruled that a transgender person carrying “visible signs of both genders” – or intersex – may not marry anyone.
It is currently impossible for transgenders to marry in Pakistan, where gay marriage remains punishable by life imprisonment, and no “third gender” is recognised on official identity cards.
The new fatwa also declared that any act intended to “humiliate, insult or tease” the community was “haraam” (sinful), and that transgender persons should not be deprived of family inheritances, nor the right to be buried in Muslim ceremonies.
Last month, the shooting of a transgender woman at her home in northern Pakistan triggered protests across the country. Another transgender activist who was shot in May died after allegedly being refused medical treatment for her wounds.
Activists claim that transgender persons receive insufficient protection from authorities in Pakistan due to their taboo status. They welcomed Sunday’s fatwa, and called on Pakistan’s government to codify the decree with binding legislation.