A non-binding fatwa signed by 50 clerics in Pakistan has declared that transgender individuals have the right to marry.
According to a copy of a religious edict obtained on Monday by Reuters, the fatwa also says they can be buried in Muslim ceremonies and have full rights under Islamic inheritance law.
The document specifies that this ruling only applies to transgender people with “clear indications” of gender on their body.
However, it did not detail how such indications are defined.
For example, a transgender person with “visible signs of both genders” may not marry anyone.
Transgender individuals in the country’s mainstream society are shunned, many being forced into begging, prostitution or dancing to earn a living.
Last month, a 23-year-old transgender woman died after being shot and then refused treatment at a large public sector hospital.
Her death sparked debate in Pakistan over the rights of transgender people, with an inquiry concluding that senior doctors at the hospital were responsible for “criminal negligence.”
Though the fatwa is not legally binding, it also recommended that people consider harassment of transgender people a crime under Islam.
“Making noises at transgender people, making fun of them, teasing them, or thinking of them as inferior is against sharia law.
“Such an act amounts to objecting to one of Allah’s creations, which is not correct,” the document added.
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.