Malaysia: 17 transwomen arrested, seek $ to avoid prison

Bahau, Negeri Sembilan is east of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. (Map courtesy of Weather-Forecast.com)
Bahau, Negeri Sembilan is 125 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. (Map courtesy of Weather-Forecast.com)

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.
Malaysia's location in Asia.
Malaysia’s location in Asia.

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.”

Contributions may be made via PayPal., directing the donations to “pp.justiceforsisters@gmail.com”.  Other fund-raising efforts are apparently in the works and will be reported on this blog, when appropriate.
For more information, contact Justice for Sisters at justiceforsisters@gmail.com.

Also:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

Leave a Reply

How the land of 'One Love' became anti gay love

After mob attack, Senegal blocks gay-themed art show