Saudi Arabia has announced that they will no longer allow transgender people to enter the country.
Article updates in the order as received:
- Pakistani travel agents deny receiving instructions from Saudi embassies.
- Saudi government confirms Umrah ban for transgender people
- TransAction Khyber Pakhtunkhwa protests religious ban prohibiting them from visiting Saudi Arabia.
- Media reports that the Saudi embassy denied the existence of a ban.
- Calls for a statement from the Kingdom regarding the alleged ban go unheeded. Regional advocates press the issue
Long renowned for their extremist stance against gender diversity the country has made the simple act of transferring flights at the airport a nightmare. The government has now banned transgender people from performing Umrah or visiting the holy cities of Mecca or Medina.
News of this first came to light when the Saudi government informed Pakistani travel agents of the ban November 22.
Daily Pakistan confirms Umrah travel ban with the Saudi embassy in Islamabad but denies reports that they are not allowing transgender people to enter the kingdom.
According to multiple news reports, the Saudi Government has instructed travel agents to deny visas to all transgender people regardless of their intended reason for visiting.
Update 11/26/2016: The Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) has denied receiving instructions from the Saudi government for not issuing visas to transgender persons who wish to visit the holy land to perform Umrah.
The Pakistan Parliment discused the Saudi ban on Wednesday according to Albawabh news.
The ʿUmrah (Arabic: عمرة) is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. So basically, a trans person could be denied entry 360 days a year if they are as much as suspected of being faithful to their religion.
While the reason for the ban isn’t clear it’s impossible to rule out it is retaliatory in nature. Just before the ban was announced the world was both surprised and encouraged after learning that a transgender friendly mosque and madrassa is being planned for Islamabad, Pakistan.
“The main reason for building this mosque is to convey a message to our society that people who are transgender are also Muslim, they too have a right to offer prayers in a mosque, to recite or teach the Holy Quran, and to preach Islam,” Nadeem Kashish, the founder of SAFFAR, told the Express Tribune.
A madrassa is an Islamic religious school. Many religious extremists have been educated in Saudi-financed madrassas in Pakistan that teach Wahhabism, a particularly austere and rigid form of Islam which is rooted in Saudi Arabia.
The author has been in contact with Planet Transgender journalists from the region who say that this ban isn’t anything new. All who have entered Saudi Arabia, particularly for religious reasons, have had to hide their authentic gender.