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Pakistan opened its first protection center for transgender people in the capital Islamabad, in a ceremony attended by Federal Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, who pledged to open more.

Speaking at the inauguration on Wednesday, Mazari said the country must do more to secure the rights and opportunities of transgender people in Pakistan. “The transgender community should have the same employment and health rights as other citizens of Pakistan. “ said the minister.

She said the new center in Islamabad would provide transgender people with legal aid, basic health services, psychological counseling and temporary shelter for those most in need in the community.

The transgender community has been included in Pakistan’s strategy to reduce poverty and health care initiatives, Mazari said, adding that she hoped the project would open up new opportunities.

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The new center will also carry out activities within the wider community to promote awareness of transgender people and their plight in Pakistan. Mazari promised that more centers, like the one in the capital, would be opened across the country.

Transgender people are often seen as outcasts in notoriously conservative Pakistan. The government sought to respond and in 2018 passed a law legally recognizing transgender people with the ratification of the Transgender People Act (Protection of Rights).

In July 2021, the government opened its first school for transgender students in the town of Multan, in the province of Punjab.

Last year, a group of transgender women were attacked by a gunman on their way home after performing at a wedding on the outskirts of Peshawar. One died of his injuries, while another was injured.

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