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ED: Advancing the rights of the hijra community

  • Published at 12:40 am November 17th, 2020
Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

These retrograde attitudes must be fought

Up until now, transgender or hijra individuals have been barred from their rightful inheritance upon the death of their parents. It is good to see that this unfair and discriminatory law is about to change: Transgender people will soon be able to inherit property, just like anyone else. 

This is a win for human rights in Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has told a cabinet meeting this week that the law was being drafted -- while the bill is yet to be proposed in parliament, it is expected to pass without difficulty.

The rights of the hijra community are slowly being recognized in the country, and while this has taken us too long as a nation, and while there are still challenges ahead that need to be tackled, these are indeed steps towards progress. 

It was only back in 2013 that Bangladesh allowed the 1.5 million-strong transgender community to identify as a separate gender. Last year, the community was allowed to register to vote as such, and just earlier this month, we opened our first madrasa for the transgender community.

Progress, then, is clearly happening when it comes to transgender rights. There is still, however, widespread discrimination in society against hijras, making it hard for them to get jobs or integrate into mainstream society. These retrograde attitudes must be fought, because at the end of the day, they are what hold us back and make new laws impossible to discuss. 

We wish to be a tolerant, plularist nation, where the rights of all are protected, regardless of gender identity -- male, female, or transgender. There is still a long way to go in that regard, but we hope to get there.