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23 Jun 2015

Malaysian court convicts nine transgender women

Arrests and convictions in Malaysia highlight plight of transgenders in the country

An Islamic law court in Malaysia has sentenced nine transgender women this week. The women have been convicted under a law that prohibits "a male person posing as a woman," according to Human Rights Watch.

The sentences include fines and jail terms between one and two months. Their lawyer has launched an appeal and the two women convicted of jail terms have been released on bail.

Activist group Transgender Europe reported that the trial of the women was conducted under pressure. “Their rights were not explained to them, and some were also advised to plead guilty,” the group said, according to LGBT rights blog 76 Crimes.

The women were arrested in a raid by religious authorities in the northeastern state of Kelantan on June 16 and pled guilty the next day.

Transgender women are known as mak nyah in Malaysia. The nine in question were attending a private birthday party at a hotel earlier this month when officials from the Kelantan Islamic Department (JHEAIK) raided the party and arrested them.

This month's arrests are the latest in an increasing number of arbitrary arrests of transgender women. “Malaysian authorities need to stop hauling transgender people into court simply because of who they are and what they wear,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Malaysian transgender rights activists say that the cross-dressing laws not only violate the constitution, but contribute to widespread discrimination and violence against transgender people.  In each state in Malaysia, religious department officials are responsible for enforcing state Sharia criminal codes.

In November 2014, a court of appeal in Putrajaya struck down the state’s “cross-dressing” laws on the grounds that they violated constitutional rights, including the right to freedom of expression, according to Human Rights Watch. But in the rest of Malaysia’s 13 states and its Federal Territories, laws against “cross-dressing” remain in force and are being used against transgender people.

Reader's Comments

1. 2015-06-24 04:26  
such a backward country who would go there!
2. 2015-06-24 06:10  
So, are these people trans gender or just cross dressing?

If cross dressing then they are men? Not women?

The article is difficult to follow.

Sharia is the cause it seems and needs to be outlawed. State and belief in fairy tales need to be a separate entities.

3. 2015-06-25 13:52  

Maybe she should go to Malaysia?
4. 2015-06-26 17:19  
No wonder Malaysia has the world's largest Muslim population and also most barbaric and crude form of Islam (Sharia law). Their Gods ONLY teach, hate, wrong indoctrination, gender bias, OLD stone age ERA of Sharia-law. It is HIGH time for LGBT visitors and all tourists to boycott visit to this primitive land, and spend bucks in other gay friendly great countries like Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines and other Asian destinations. Let these autocratic regime, realize that, they are the modern Fascists of 21st century to legalize such barbaric act of terrorism to its own transgender population. Shame on you, Malays, the land of DISTRUST and the land of the holy Prophet Mohammad. Shame, shame, shame!!
5. 2015-06-27 05:36  
I think Saudi Arabia is rather less progressive
6. 2015-07-15 03:27  
Fine then. Not wasting another dollar there. Sayonara!

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