The Supreme Court in Islamabad has ordered that trans people should receive equal protection and support from the government.

The three judges, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, said on Tuesday that financial support must be given to trans individuals individuals through Bait-ul-Maal (a worldwide relief and development organisation) or income support programmes.

The Interior Ministry has also been directed to ensure police provide protection to trans people from criminal elements.

Islamic jurist Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, who submitted the petition, took on the case after the arrest of several trans people in Taxila recently.

He said that trans people, especially those from poor families, were often subject to oppression and harassment, and were forced to earn a living through begging and prostitution.

Dr Khaki added that trans people were often thrown out of their homes by fathers and brothers and cited the issue of identity cards showing female photos but male genders.

A trans woman known only as Shazia told the court that while trans people from wealthy families could be educated and find jobs, those from poorer backgrounds are abused by society, police and criminal gangs.

She added that she feared her appearance that day could result in her death.

The court ordered Dr Khaki to work with social sector non-governmental organisations to devise welfare programmes for trans people.

It also asked provincial social welfare departments to consider solutions to help lift individuals out of poverty.

Proceedings have been adjourned until late August.