Pakistan will count transgender people in its national census for the first time when it surveys its population in March this year, following a top court ruling on Monday.
This stemmed from a petition filed by transgender Waqar Ali last November, arguing that Pakistan’s transgender community has been marginalised and their fundamental rights should be recognised by including them in the sixth national census.
The Lahore High Court issued the order to the government, National Database and Registration Authority, and the interior ministry with a government official assuring the court that the transgender community will be part of the 2017 census.
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed the order, issuing directives to enforce the transgender community's basic rights.
The move was welcomed by Pakistan's transgender community.
"We are glad that we will be counted as will be other people," transgender rights worker Almas Bobby told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Hope we get equal citizenship and equal status.Almas Bobby
In 2012, Pakistan's Supreme Court declared equal rights for transgender citizens, including the right to inherit property and assets, preceded a year earlier by the right to vote.
There are no official figures on the number of transgender people living in Pakistan but advocacy group Trans Action estimates there are at least 5,00,000 in the country with a total population of 190 million.
Transgender Recognition Around the World
Nepal's 2011 census was hailed as the first national census globally to allow people to register as a gender other than male or female while India also counted transgender people in its national census for the first time in 2011.
In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents of babies born with no clearly-defined gender characteristics to leave the 'male/female' field on birth certificates blank, creating a 'third sex' category.
Also, citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh can choose from three genders for their passports.