From Recognition to Realising Rights: LEGAL PROTECTION OF GENDER IDENTITY IN BANGLADESH LAW
In this policy brief, Abdullah Titir addresses the challenges that transgenders have to face in their daily lives (such as obtaining identity documents, opening a bank account), despite the government taking several steps to enhance their social protection and inclusion.
In recent years, the Government of Bangladesh has taken several progressive steps to enhance social protection and inclusion of communities with diverse gender identities. In 2013, the Cabinet’s decision to recognise the Hijra community and to reflect their presence in national identification documents and censuses was the first step towards legal recognition. In 2014, the Ministry of Social Welfare (MSW) published a gazette notification regarding the Hijra community. In 2018, the Voter List Act 2009 was amended, to provide ‘Hijra’ as gender category in the voter registration form, in addition to ‘male’ and ‘female’ In the meantime, in 2013, the MSW introduced several livelihood schemes for the Hijra community. While these steps highlight the Government’s willingness to engage with the Hijra community and ensure their constitutional rights, any other laws or policies expressly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, are yet to be enacted.
This policy brief documents the positive measures to date to recognise diverse gender identities, and then to outline the remaining challenges in this respect, including the process for obtaining identity documents, and the reforms required in law and practice, to ensure gender identity is not narrowly defined.
The brief also recognises the need for such reforms as a first, crucial step towards addressing other existing gaps in the law that prevent these individuals from living with dignity, protection and freedom from discrimination.
This policy brief was prepared by BLAST (Bangladesh Legal Aid Services and Trust) with support from RHRN (Right Here, Right Now).