The country’s Federal Territories Islamic Department (known as JAWI) raided a dinner and beauty contest organised by trans women in Kuala Lumpur on April 3, according to lawyer and activist Siti Kasim.
The event was a closed-door function at the upmarket Renaissance hotel and was attended by around 200 trans women.
According to local media reports, around 10 JAWI officers raided the event around 10pm on the grounds that it violated a fatwa against beauty pageants.
“The officer told me that it’s against the law to have a beauty contest — it’s “haram” in Malaysia, based on a fatwa,’ said Kasim who also was one of the dinner guests.
Kasim was forced to call the police after the JAWI officers refused to allow people to leave the dinner and did not produce any warrant.
After the police arrived, the guests were allowed to leave but Kasim along with the event’s organiser, Ira Sophia, were taken to Dang Wangi police station.
They are being charged with ‘promoting vice’ under the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act of 1996, in which Muslim women are banned from participating in beauty pageants. Sophia will appear in court on May 5.
Muslim NGO Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) slammed the actions by JAWI. The organisation’s representative, Ahmed Salami argued that it was unjust for Sophia to be charged with promoting ‘vice’ as the event did not cause harm to others, and had no “passive or active intention to force people to embrace transgenderism.”
A video of the incident can be seen below: