Watchdog calls for end to state laws criminalising gender, sexual identity

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Taylor’s University had explained that it cancelled LGBT awareness event at its campus because the organisers did not obtain its approval. — AFP pic

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Malaysia noted that attacks against trans women have become increasingly brutal. — AFP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Malaysian laws criminalising activities like cross-dressing has led to increased discrimination and violence against transgenders and those of different sexual identities and orientations, an international human rights watchdog said.

In its latest report to the United Nations committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on Malaysia released Friday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted that attacks against these peoples, especially trans women, have become increasingly brutal.

It highlighted the February murder of a trans woman named Sameera in Kuantan, Pahang whose body was also mutilated as a recent example of the growing phobia taking against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the country.

The organisation further noted the increased frequency of state-sanctioned raids, arrests and prosecution of transgenders who are subjected to rough treatment under detention, and added that these have far-reaching socio-economic repercussions. Read more

She strives to help marginalised communities in Malaysia

Source: Star2

Through Justice for Sisters, Thilaga Sulathireh hope to raise public awareness about issues surrounding violence and persecution of the Mak Nyah community in Malaysia. Photo: The Star/Rohaizat Md Darus

Through Justice for Sisters, Thilaga Sulathireh hope to raise public awareness about issues surrounding violence and persecution of the Mak Nyah community in Malaysia. Photo: The Star/Rohaizat Md Darus

Thilaga Sulathireh is brimming with hope. The 30-year-old activist believes there is more support now for the LGBT community, a most vulnerable group in society.

“We see a lot of cis-gender, hetrosexual people speaking out against the discrimination the LGBTQ community faces and that’s really a positive step in our activism. There are limitations in Malaysia when it comes to talking about gender identity. Yet, people want to talk about it now. This is really encouraging and something we cherish.

“Take the recent murder of Sameera (in Kuantan recently) as an example … there was a huge public outcry not just within the trans community but from the general public,” says the co-founder of Justice for Sisters, a group formed to raise awareness on violence and persecution against the transgender community in Malaysia.

Thilaga’s activism began when she began volunteering with the Malaysian Aids Council (MAC) as a teenager. Read more

Dignity for Meera — Azrul Mohd Khalib

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY AZRUL MOHD KHALIB

Tragic end: Sameera was found dead with a gunshot wound and her body mutilated in Jalan Pasar, Kuantan. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Tragic end: Sameera was found dead with a gunshot wound and her body mutilated in Jalan Pasar, Kuantan. Pic taken from The Star Online.

FEBRUARY 27 —This past week, we have been sickened by the case of Sameera Krishnan. A worker at a florist, she was attacked by masked individuals who repeatedly shot and slashed her with an edged weapon resulting in severe wounds to her head, arms and legs. She did not survive the attack. Her body was found in the wee hours of the morning.

The reasons behind such brutality and her murder can only be speculated at this point. The degree of cruelty and savagery needed to inflict such harm on another human being is often unable to be understood or seen unless you work in criminology or law enforcement.

But for many who work who work in the area of human rights, particularly dealing with sexuality, acts of abuse and violence can be an altogether familiar story.

While this incident has been considered by police to not be a hate crime, I want to take this opportunity to once again to highlight the incidences of harassment, discrimination and abuse experienced by the transgender community.

The Federal Constitution guarantees the protection of minorities against the tyranny of the majority. It provides for all Malaysians the same fundamental rights and protections. That all persons are equal before the law and entitled to its equal protection. A person shouldn’t and cannot be singled out or criminalised for simply being who and what they are.

I hope that there will be justice for Meera and that the authorities will do all that they can to find, capture and bring the perpetrators to court. But it can be a daunting task for members of this community to look for justice when they themselves are often victims of persecution. Read more

Cops: Transgender’s murder not a hate crime

Source: The Star Online

Tragic end: Sameera was found dead with a gunshot wound and her body mutilated in Jalan Pasar, Kuantan. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Tragic end: Sameera was found dead with a gunshot wound and her body mutilated in Jalan Pasar, Kuantan. Pic taken from The Star Online.

KUANTAN: There is no element of hate crime in the murder of transgender woman Sameera Krishnan.

“We are looking into the victim’s past activities and also whether the murder was linked to a kidnapping case in Klang two years ago.

“We are investigating if it was an act of vengeance but there is no indication that the murder was a hate crime against a transgender individual,” said Pahang CID chief Senior Asst Commissioner Datuk Raja Shahrom Raja Abdullah.

Sameera, 26, was the main witness in her own kidnapping case, which had been set for hearing at the Shah Alam court early next month.

In the 2015 case, she was rescued by police when her captors’ car was involved in an accident with another vehicle at the Sungai Rasau toll plaza.

Early Thursday morning, Sameera was found dead with a gunshot wound and her body mutilated in Jalan Pasar, Kuantan, after she went out to buy food.

Kuantan OCPD Asst Comm Ab­­dul Aziz Salleh said police were taking the case seriously like any other crime.

“The point is someone was murdered so police will investigate this case thoroughly according to procedure as always,” he said. Read more

Why transgenders move in groups

Source: FMT News

LGBT activist Nisha Ayub says they don't feel safe because the negative light they're painted in gives the message it's okay to harm them. Pic taken from FMT News

LGBT activist Nisha Ayub says they don’t feel safe because the negative light they’re painted in gives the message it’s okay to harm them. Pic taken from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: LGBT activist Nisha Ayub has called for an end to the negative portrayal of transgenders, saying it puts them in danger of being harmed.

“We don’t feel safe in our own country,” she told FMT.

“Look at the way we are portrayed by certain people, religious authorities and certain media. They paint us in a negative light.”

She said the negative portrayal dehumanised the transgender community and conveyed the message that it was all right to harm them.

“A lot of transgender women don’t dare to go out of their homes alone. They’ll go out only in groups.”

She said police reports about attacks on transgender persons were often treated lightly. There has even been instances when the transgender persons making the reports were blamed for the incidents, she added.

“Most of the time, transgender people don’t even want to report an incident to the police because they don’t want to face the whole scenario of being blamed for something that happened to them,” she said. Read more

Court reversal on transgender ruling shows ‘wilful ignorance’, rights group says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Supporters of transgender rights group Justice for Sisters are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, October 8, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa for the MMO.

Supporters of transgender rights group Justice for Sisters are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, October 8, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Malaysia’s transgender community criticised today the Court of Appeal’s recent overturn of a ruling granting a trans man the right to change his registration details and be formally identified as a male.

The group and its allies, which called themselves Justice for Sisters, said the decision wilfully disregards current scientific and medical understanding of gender identity, as well as the realities and lived experiences of transgender people.

“It also displays a wilful ignorance of good practices worldwide with regards to the role of the state in its duty to uphold and protect the rights of transgender persons,” it said in a statement. Read more

NRD wins appeal bid to stop transgender from changing IC details

Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 5 — The Court of Appeal today allowed an appeal by the government to set aside a High Court ruling which granted a woman who underwent a gender reassignment surgery to change his identity card details.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel led by Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam said there was merit in the National Registration Department (NRD) director-general’s appeal against the 30-year-old respondent who now looks like a man.

“We have read the submissions and after holding a discussion, we have come to a unanimous decision that there is a merit in the appeal.

“With this, we allow the appeal and set aside the ruling by the High Court,” Zakaria said, adding that the written grounds of judgment will be provided later.

Malay Mail Online is not disclosing the transgender’s identity to protect his privacy.

On July 18 last year, the NRD was ordered by the High Court to declare the transgender a man, on grounds that he has a constitutional right to life under Article 5 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

According to past news reports of the ruling, the constitutional concept of “life” accords the transgendered respondent the right to live with dignity as a male and be legally accorded judicial recognition as a male. Read more

So what’s that about human rights? — Boo Su-Lyn

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Boo Su-Lyn is a feminist who loves reading fiction. She tweets at @boosulyn. Pic from the MMO.

Boo Su-Lyn is a feminist who loves reading fiction. She tweets at @boosulyn. Pic from the MMO.

DECEMBER 30 ― This year has seen widespread human rights violations in Malaysia, including attacks on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, native rights, and the right to privacy.

The government appears to be increasingly intolerant of dissent and resorted to investigating trivial matters like the posting of “insulting” photos of leaders on WhatsApp, posting a video of a press conference, and various Facebook posts and tweets.

If Malaysia is serious about achieving developed nation status by 2020, then the government must acknowledge and respect basic human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Without the space to express ideas and opinions, society cannot progress.

These are the top 8 human rights violations in the country in 2016, in no particular order: Read more

Malaysia’s Muslim trans community in a struggle for human rights

Source: SBS

BY MARCEL THEROUX

Malaysia’s transgender community finds itself on the front line of a struggle between civil society and an increasingly intrusive and moralistic version of Islamic law.

Image drawn from SBS

Shortly after midnight a white patrol van rolls out of the compound that houses the headquarters of Kuala Lumpur’s religious police. Inside are eight uniformed enforcement officers, seven men and one woman, whose navy blue uniform is set off by a multi-coloured tudung, or headscarf. The mood of the team is a strange combination of joviality and religious zeal.

Officer Akmal Adzin, a cheery, moon-faced man, is leading the patrol. “We have received complaints from members of the public about offenses relating to close proximity,” he tells me.

Under Malaysia’s version of Sharia law, the crime of khalwat or ‘close proximity’ between unmarried, unrelated Muslim members of the opposite sex is punishable by a fine of $US750 and up to two years in prison.

The patrol’s first stop is a budget hotel out in the suburb of Sungai Besi. At the reception desk, an employee obligingly prints out a list of all the Muslim hotel guests and the team ascends to the upper floors in a lift. Read more

Being transgender: Facts, myths and rights

Source: FMT News

Human Rights Watch counts 80 countries that continue to criminalize consensual same-sex relations or discussion of LGBT rights, with punishments including prison sentences, flogging, and even the death penalty. Pic taken from FMT News.

Human Rights Watch counts 80 countries that continue to criminalize consensual same-sex relations or discussion of LGBT rights, with punishments including prison sentences, flogging, and even the death penalty. Pic taken from FMT News.

WASHINGTON: Transgender people live under dramatically varying circumstances around the world — often facing violent repression, but also conquering crucial new rights most notably in Europe and the United States.

There are few reliable statistics on the community, in part because many transgender people around the world are unable to come out. And there are sometimes misunderstandings of the complex and changing vocabulary involved. Read more

Women’s groups demand Shariah law review after JAWI raid on transgenders

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 ― Women’s rights groups called today for a review of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 after religious authorities raided a charity dinner by the transgender community.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), which now includes transgender rights group Justice for Sisters (JFS), also questioned the ethical standards of the Federal Territories Islamic Department (JAWI) that is purportedly planning to charge a trans woman under the Shariah law with encouraging vice and with defying religious authorities.

“JAWI’s actions are clearly un-Islamic as it was aimed to intimidate and humiliate the transgender community in Malaysia,” said JAG in a statement.

Supporters of transgender rights group Justice for Sisters are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, October 8, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Supporters of transgender rights group Justice for Sisters are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, October 8, 2014. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

“JAG once again, calls on the state to review the SCOA as the catch-all provisions in the Act have allowed for wide interpretation and abuse by enforcement officers.

“JAWI or other state religious authorities cannot be allowed to continuously undermine the Federal Constitution because of the misguided perception that they are guardians of Islam and morality in Malaysia,” the group added. Read more

Malaysian activist Nisha Ayub is first transgender to win US Women of Courage award

Source: Asian Correspondent

Nisha Ayub accepting the International Women of Courage award from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Pic: Twitter

Nisha Ayub accepting the International Women of Courage award from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Pic: Twitter

MALAYSIA’S leading defender of trangender rights, Nisha Ayub, was a recipient of the prestigious International Women of Courage Award on Tuesday in Washington D.C.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the award to Nisha and 13 others in recognition for their courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress.

In his speech, Kerry lauded Nisha for standing up for Malaysia’s transgender community, which still faces violence, discrimination, and oppression.

He said that despite threats to her own safety, Nisha remained committed to her work because “it’s what she cares about and because she knows it’s the right thing to do”.

“Nisha Ayub – for your extraordinary work to promote societies that are more just, fair and tolerant, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, we honor you,” said Kerry. Read more