EC to re-register hijras with new gender
Syed Samiul Basher Anik

Cabinet approved hijra as a separate gender on Monday

The Election Commission may consider including identity of hijras on their national identity cards for participating in the upcoming polls, officials told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

“We are yet to receive the formal letter from the government to register hijras for the upcoming polls with their own identity. As soon as we get the letter, commission members would sit to discuss the issue and decide next course of action,” EC secretary Dr Mohammad Sadiq said.

After getting the directives, EC would expedite the process to make the changes in the Nation Identity Cards of the hijras, he added.

However, the secretary feared that it would not be easy to re-register them within the short span of time left before poll.

“Voters list has already been published where many hijras have been registered either as male or female according to their choices. Now, it would be tough to identify them and the process would require much cost and time,” he said.

Following a proposal from the social welfare ministry, the cabinet approved Hijras as a seperate gender on Monday.

Their sexual identity will be mentioned as Hijras in different government and legal documents including the national ID cards and passports, the cabinet decision said.

The commission has already ensured voting rights for the transgender, transsexual and intersexual people in 2008, but they are still identified either as ‘male’ or ‘female’ on their NIDs. The recent government order has bestowed them the right to include their original sex on their NID cards from now on, sources said.

Mohsin Ali, director for operations at the Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) project, told the Dhaka Tribune that he was informed about the decision through newspapers.

“We will start working on the issue after getting approval from the commission members. Initiatives for including them on NIDs with their identity now rely upon the decisions of policy level,” he said.

Joya Shikder, a leader of the transgender people in the country and also the president of Shomporker Naya Shetu, an NGO for sexual minority group appreciated the move. She said the step would play a role in reducing the social discrimination against them.

“The state has finally recognised our rights and from now on we will be enlisted as hijras in documents including passport and NID card. However, now is the time to work for changing the social mind-set,” she said. 

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