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EC secretary: Transgenders can contest for reserved seats

  • Published at 12:15 am January 23rd, 2019
File photo of Election Commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed UNB

The government recognized Hijra as the third gender five years ago. Similarly, the Election Commission decided to include them as voters as the third gender last July

Members of the Hijra community can contest for the reserved seats of the Jatiya Sangsad. However, those who did not categorize themselves in gender section as “female” in the voter-forms, will not be eligible.

Election Commission secretary Helaluddin Ahmed made the announcement at a press conference at the media centre of the secretariat in Agargaon, on Tuesday.

The government recognized Hijra as the third gender five years ago. Similarly, the Election Commission decided to include them as voters as the third gender last July. 

However, the voter still does not include third-gender as a category in the forms. Under the existing law, transgenders have the opportunity to become a voter as a “male” or “female.” Many hijras have registered as female voters before agreeing to this rule. 

According to Election Commission sources, most of the hijras have categorized themselves as female voters.

Asked whether a person can be a candidate as a third gender in reserved seats, Helaluddin Ahmed said: "If a person has identified themselves as a woman in the voter-form they can become a candidate. When the new voter list is updated, transgenders will be registered as the third gender.”

Also Read- Is Bangladesh on the cusp of electing its first transgender MP?

According to the election rules of reserved seats, any eligible woman of the country is eligible for the reserved seats.

It is to be noted that eight members of the transgender community have filed their nominations with Awami League.

There are 50 seats reserved for women out of the 350 seats in Jatiya Sangsad. Though 300 seats are directly held, the reserved seats are allocated in the ratio of seats to the winning parties.

In the proportional representation process, Awami League will get 43 seats, Jatiya Party four, BNP one, independent candidates and other parties and alliance will get one reserved seat.

The Election Commission will announce the election schedule for the reserved seats on February 3.

Bangladesh’s transgender community, colloquially referred as “hijra,” had been neglected for decades. An estimated 10,000 to half a million – of Bangladesh’s population of about 160 million – belong to the hijra community.

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