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Shaheen Sardar Ali

Abstract

This article interrogates how ‘claims’ based on sexual identities and orientation that were, until recently, neither publicly articulated nor officially accommodated in State law, are raised and dealt with in legislation and case law in Pakistan. Focussing on transgender communities in Pakistan, known variously as ‘hijra’, ‘khusra’ or ‘khwajasara’, it analyses implications of their successful claims for civil and political rights as well as application of family laws to them. Using legislation and case law from Pakistani courts, this article highlights the far-reaching potential for challenging established and entrenched norms in Muslim family law in Pakistan as a result of identity rights accorded to transgender persons. The article calls for a more nuanced interpretation of the formal success of transgender rights arguing that, in practical terms, recognition of their claims may result in rather limited advantages.