Seventeen transgender women were arrested in Malaysia on June 8 for allegedly violating the law against “men posing as women,” reports Justice for Sisters, an organization supporting LGBT rights in Malaysia.
The arrests took place at a wedding celebration in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan.
The transwomen were arrested under Section 66 of the NS Syariah Criminal Enactment (the religious law that applies to Muslims in Muslim-majority Malaysia). At the Lower Syariah Court in Bahau on June 9, sixteen of them were fined 950 Malaysian Ringgit (about US $300) and sentenced to Sungai Udang prison for seven days.
If they fail to pay the fine within seven days, they will be imprisoned for six months. The seventeenth arrestee is a minor, so she was released, but must report to the Jabatan Agama (Islamic Religious Department) every month for the next year.
Justice for Sisters said that, because none of them had previously been arrested under this law, the arrestees panicked and pleaded guilty. Most of them are wedding planners (mak andam) who now are worried that a criminal record will affect their reputation and income.
Justice for Sisters stated:
“We managed to get a syariah lawyer to reduce the sentence. We have been asked by the lawyer to prepare RM 1,500 [US $468] for each person. Apparently, it is a common practice for the court to ask for more money from the detainees who appeal their sentences. In order for the girls to escape the prison sentence, they may have to pay RM 1,500 each.
“As much as possible, we do not want the girls to be imprisoned. As their identification card says male, they will be sentenced to a male prison, and treated as a male person – their heads will be shaved, no hormone treatment and high risk of violence.
“Unfortunately, Justice for Sisters does not have the funds to financially support them. The reality is we need to prepare RM 24,000 [US $7484] for all of them in a few hours.”
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For more information, contact Justice for Sisters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Justice for Sisters. (May 24, 2014, Daily Kos) Three Malaysian transgender women, also called Mak Nyah, have brought a case to The Negri Sembilan Appeal Court in Putrajaya against a shariah law which criminalizes being transgender (specifically, any male who “wears women’s attire” or “poses as a woman”).
- Malaysian court to rule on sharia law, transgender women (May 29, 2014, Erasing 76 Crimes)
Anti-gay court action in Malaysia, Nigeria, Zambia (March 8, 2014, Erasing 76 Crimes)
- Plea to Malaysia: Drop anti-gay law, political prosecution (Feb. 11, 2014, Erasing 76 Crimes)
- Malaysia hopes anti-gay musical will cure gay ‘poison’ (April 23, 2013, Erasing 76 Crimes)
- So easy to ridicule: Malaysian list of gay ‘symptoms’ (Sept. 19, 2012, Erasing 76 Crimes)
- Malaysia official: Constitution does not protect LGBTs (June 26, 2012, Erasing 76 Crimes)
- Malaysian officials seize pro-gay Muslim’s book (May 24, 2012, Erasing 76 Crimes)