South-South collaboration to advance legal gender recognition and inclusion of transgender people in South Asia

Far too often transgender people are being excluded from society and facing stigma, discrimination and violence. A key step towards addressing this marginalization is for countries to enact strong legal protections, including removing laws that directly or indirectly criminalize transgender people, and ensure policy coherence which promotes inclusion into social protection initiatives, education programmes and employment opportunities.

Government officials, transgender groups, national human rights institutions, civil society and development partners gathered in Kathmandu from 27-28 September 2018 for a regional roundtable discussion focused on developing targeted solutions to advance protective laws, policies and programmes on legal gender recognition in South Asia. The meeting was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN).

"Legal gender recognition is a fundamental requirement for transgender people to meaningfully participate in society and to prevent stigma, discrimination and human rights violations,” said Valerie Julliand, United Nations Nepal Resident Coordinator. “It is a crucial step for achieving the ultimate inclusive mission of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘leave no one behind’.”

Legal gender recognition is the official recognition of a person’s gender identity, including gendered information and name in public registries and key documents. Across the region, there is a movement to provide legal gender recognition to transgender people based on human rights standards that respect self-determination.

In South Asia, there has been some significant progress concerning legal gender recognition, including either Supreme Court judgments or Cabinet decisions recognizing a third gender on specific documents in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Pakistan recently passed the ‘Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018’. Additionally, in Nepal, the 2015 Constitution includes protections for sexual minorities, including third gender recognition. Read more via UNDP

Voices from participants on the sidelines of the South Asia Roundtable on Legal Gender Recognition for Transgender People, organized by UNDP, ICJ and APTN in Kathmandu from 27-28 September 2018.