Pakistan: Supreme Court Orders Release on Bail

Update: June 29, 2007

On June 28, Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered Shumail Raj, a female-to-male transgendered husband and his wife Shahzina Tariq to be released on bail, set at 50,000 rupees ($825) each.

According to Dr Babar Awan , the legal counsel for the couple, the Supreme Court has suspended the judgment of the high court of Lahore, which had jailed the couple for three years and fined them Rs10, 000 ($165) each for perjury, declaring the marriage un-Islamic because it was between persons of the same sex.

The Pakistani Supreme Court accepted the plea of the couple’s lawyer, who argued that lifestyle of Shamail over the past 12 years and his beard and moustache provided sufficient grounds for exoneration on the charges of perjury. Furthermore, their lawyer contended that no law in Pakistan considered cohabitation of two people of the same-sex to be a crime.

You can learn more about Pakistan’s Supreme Court’s decision online:

  1. BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6249566.stm
  2. Dawn, the Pakistani daily newspaper in English: http://www.dawn.com/2007/06/29/top6.htm

IGLHRC would like to thank all our members who offered support for the couple by donating money, sending emails and contacting Pakistani authorities.

LETTERS OF SUPPORT

June 11, 2007, New York- In response to IGLHRC’s June 1 action alert on the case of an imprisoned Pakistani transgender husband and his wife, ( http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/english/article/takeaction/globalactionalerts/428.html), we have received dozens of letters of support for Shumail Raj and Shahzina Tariq. Shumail is a transgender man and his wife is a female identified woman. Since the judge didn’t recognize the legality of Shumail’s gender reassignment, the couple was sentenced to three years in jail.

IGLHRC has been galvanizing international support for activists and lawyers in Pakistan who are working on an appeal to the Supreme Court. Letters are being sent care of Nighat Khan, executive director of ASR Resource Centre, who is working closely with the couple. To encourage more people to write to Mr. Raj and Ms. Shahzina and to provide a forum for personal expressions of solidarity from around the world, IGLHRC is posting a sampling of letters with permission from the authors. We will keep adding to this list as we receive more letters.

Shumail and Shazina need to hear from you. Please continue to show your solidarity and keep your letters coming. Send your support letters to Ms. Nighat Khan: nskhan46@yahoo.com and please don’t forget to copy your letter to Grace Poore: gpoore@iglhrc.org

Fri, 1 June 2007

It has come to our attention in the United States that you have been fined and imprisoned for perjury. Please know that although you may now feel alone and isolated, away from one another and shunned by your legal system and families, you are not in fact alone. You will both be in our thoughts and prayers. Who you are and have chosen to marry is not only justifiable but honorable. There are many people who truly understand and respect you. Please stay strong and steadfast and do not let this injury destroy your minds or hearts. There are people who have made it their priority to see that you are freed.

With the utmost respect,

Anna R. Ball
California, USA


Sat, 2 June 2007

Hello. I've read news on what happened to you last month and I'm upset how Pakistani authorities judged you and treated you.

I know you are having a difficult time now, but I believe that Supreme Court should find you two innocent and you be released soon.

Please accept my heart of support.

Take care,
Azusa Yamashita
GayJapanNews Co-Director and Editor
http://gayjapannews.com/index.htm


Sun, 3 Jun 2007

I was filled with sorrow and anger to hear of your situation. I am an American woman who was born in the wrong sex. I cannot imagine what you have both been put through because of your love for each other. Even here in the United States couples like yourselves have occasionally been threatened with imprisonment because they married. I hope that with the help of your friends and supporters you will be able to prevail in this case. Whatever happens, keep courage in your hearts.

Sincerely,
Harper Jean Tobin
Ohio, USA


Mon, 4 Jun 2007

I am aware that you are in close contact with Shumail and Shazina and I would like you to give them this small message of hope. They need to know they aren’t alone and many people are supporting them. According to Islam this may be wrong but according to humanity it isn’t and its humanity that counts these days. Love these days knows no bounds, caste, creed or religion. I know several women here in Pakistan who love each other but cant come out of the closet as they feel they would be rejected.

Many say they were left off the hook easily, I say its hard because they are apart. Please tell them to keep their hopes and faith strong, committing suicide will mean that they lose. They need to be strong to fight this and this will only happen if they stay together even if they are apart. Someday i would like to meet them, not to look upon them with shame but with respect for taking the step they took in order to spend the rest of their lives together. I wish i could do more and if there’s anything, any kind of support they want, i will do my best to give it.

Hope to hear from your end. My best wishes and support to them

Regards,

Denise Pereira
Pakistan


Mon, 4 June 2007

Hello. I’ve come to know what happened to you two. I’m really sorry to hear it. I’d like to send you my letter of support because I believe you two are not guilty at all. Please keep in mind that my heart of support is there with you.

I hope and believe that the Supreme Court will find you not guilty and you will be released soon.

Sincerely yours,
Collectively from Japan
o Mameta Endo
o Hagiwara
o Fumiko Higae
o Asami Oka
o Takuma
o Azusa Yamashita
o Names of 27 other writers have been withheld


Mon, 4 Jun 2007

We at the Inner Circle are sad to hear your story and wish to give you courage and support through this letter.
We are an organization dealing specifically with issues of gender & sexuality in the Muslim community of South Africa . We stand in solidarity with individuals like you in other parts of the world. Our aim is to eradicate homophobia in the Muslim community and hopefully we, together with other Muslim lgbtiq organizations will have a stronger voice in the near future to make life easier for the lgbtiq global community.
Despite our distance, we are creating awareness around your issue as well as getting all our members to pray for your well-being and freedom.
May Allah be with you during this trying time.
With love & peace
Muhsin Hendricks
Founder & Director, The Inner Circle South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.theinnercircle.org.za


Thu, 7 Jun 2007

I have received information about the horrendous situation that you are going through and couldn't help feeling extremely revolted. I am very sorry for all the pain and suffering you are being subjected to.

You seem to be a beautiful example of how Love should stand above everything else. Reading your story, I felt an immense sympathy towards you. There is not much I can do to help you from such a distance, but still I wanted to tell you that I admire you and hope you'll soon be released and let in peace.

I wish you a lot of courage to endure the hardship that is being imposed on you, and, even more, lots of happiness afterwards - I'm sure you'll manage to survive this situation and be a happy couple in the future!

Nuno


Fri, 8 Jun 2007

I have read about the terrible situation you both are in at the moment. For me, as a citizen of the Netherlands, it is unbelievable that people were sentenced to prison, because of their own wish to have a transformation to the other sex. It is my strong believe that this is the right people have, to decide what they want to do with their body, because it is people’s own body. Nobody has the right to sentence and to punish people for this.

I very much hope that you both will overcome this difficult period, as I also hope that the officials will decide to end your captivity, to send you back to the place where you can live in freedom.

I wish that the officials would take the possibility to read about the way the Dutch people treat transgender people. I am sure, they will change their minds.

I hope you both will look in a positive way to the future. Keep in mind, tomorrow will be a better day. That is my sentence that I use when things aren’t as good as they should.

Please be proud at the people you both are. There is nothing wrong with you, only with the people who are treating you bad.

Herman
The Netherlands


Thu, 7 Jun 2007

I'm writing to show my support for Ms. Tariq and Mr. Raj. In a country where only might has right and only money buys you your rights, its not surprising to see what the justice system is doing to this couple in Pakistan.

I realize that same-sex relationships might be a problem with our social structure, but then, I have no respect for a social system that takes away the liberty to love who you want to.

Please let them both know that there are people out here who support their decision to stay together.

Regards,
Vasi Hasan
London, England


Fri, 08 Jun 2007

I am e-mailing you today to assure you that many people around the world are with you, even as you probably sometimes feel unaccompanied and scared. Your continued stand for your love is inspiration and guide--a beacon of light I can see thousands of miles away. I have just lit a pair of candles and placed them by my computer monitor as I type in your honor.

Stay strong,
LaVon Rice
New Mexico, USA


Sun, 10 Jun 2007

I am writing from London, England, to ask you if you would kindly send a message of support to Shumail and Shahzina on my behalf. I have heard about their situation via al-Fatiha. I am appalled by the way they have been treated and am I want to let them know that they are in the thoughts of people worldwide who care about justice and human rights. I hope they will be supported by friends and organisations worldwide.

Here in England - albeit a far from perfect society! - we at least have legal protection now for trans-gendered people, and greater acknowledgment of their identities and right to live and love and be themselves. This shows what can be achieved after a long struggle and much campaigning, and I know this must and will continue to go on internationally in the quest for equality and respect for everyone. Through being involved in human rights groups I have trans-gendered friends and am inspired and educated by their courage.

I send love and support to Ms Tariq and Mr Raj and hope for their strength and optimism, and that justice will prevail so that they may be free and reunited.

Yours sincerely
(Ms) Frankie Green
London, England


Tue, 12 Jun 2007

I am deeply affected by the situation you are experiencing. I hope you can remain strong and be ready for the day when you can be reunited. It is my fervent hope that champions will appeal your case and get you both released. It is critical to educate judges and governmental bodies so that they will stop treating transgender people and their loved ones so badly. We must find a way to get the authorities to listen to the truth of the human heart and the human spirit; if they could understand they would surely let you go. There are many people around the world who are concerned for you, and who are mobilizing to fight the injustice you have suffered. We will persist and work very hard to make the world safe for you and the many other people who are in similar situations. Whether you are released in three years, or if you are released tomorrow, you will need each other. Please do not give up hope.

Peace and courage to you both,

Mr. Jamison Green
California , USA


Wed, 13 Jun 2007

Please don't give up!

Trans activists and human rights activists all over the world are fighting for your case to give you and people of all genders the right to live their lives without being harassed. I hope your problems will end soon and that the Pakistan government will be forced to change their laws.

Don't forget that you're right and they're wrong.

Vincent Oliver Prozokjevna, intergendered filmmaker
Sweden