Malaysian federal court allows Islamic case against transgender people to go forward

Maylsian court date 1 27 2014
Representatives of embassies and high commissions from the US, UK, Germany, Canada and the European Union were also present in court as observers

Maylasian court structure

On June 8th, 2014 sixteen Malaysian transgender women were arrested under sharia law which “bans any male person who, in any public place, wears a woman’s attire or poses as a woman.” The arrest of these women focused the world’s attention to the country’s anti-transgender sharia law which is enforced in some of the states independently of federal law.

In a groundbreaking ruling, last November an appellate court overruled Sharia saying that arresting lifelong “cross-dressers” is “degrading, oppressive and inhuman.” Their reason: The so-called cross-dressers suffer from a mental illness called “gender identity disorder.”

USA Today reported that the ruling came about after three transgender women — Muslim men in the government’s eyes — grew fed up with frequent arrests by police citing Islamic law. A court brief acquired by GlobalPost indicates the trio willingly submitted to a battery of tests from psychiatrists to prove their “gender identity disorder.”

The doctors’ findings: “cross-dressing is intrinsic to the appellants’ nature” and “this abnormal condition is incurable.”

Judges, therefore, ruled that sharia law — specifically the ban on men in female clothing — puts transgender women in an “untenable and horrible situation.”

The ruling by the appeals court was immediately challenged in the lands highest court.

Maylasia court 1 27 15 post
There’s good reason for the Justice Sisters to feel optimistic about today’s Federal Court ruling

The Malay mail reports that the Federal Court today rejected applications by five state religious councils to appear as interveners in Negri Sembilan’s appeal against a declaration that its anti-crossdressing Shariah law is unconstitutional.

The state’s religious councils rejected were from Selangor, Perak, Penang, Johor and the Federal Territories. Only the Negri Sembilan religious council’s application was accepted.

The other councils were allowed, however, to appear as amicus curiae or “friends of the court” — independent parties who may raise their points in court.

The five-man bench led by Justice Tan Sri Md Raus Shariff said, however, that the court will only consider whether Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment 1992, which criminalises cross-dressing, contravenes Articles 5(1), 8(1), 8(2), 9(2) and 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

Trisha Rai Nisha posted on facebook, “Just finished the court hearing on the transgender case . The state was granted leave but all their arguments/ questions was not accepted where they wanted to argue on whether Shariah law should be brought up in the civil court . The judges even declined the intervention by Selangor , Wilayah Persekutuan, Penang and Johor . Now the prosecutor will have to challenge the judgment of the appeal Court . Im looking this from a non bias view , I see the judges giving the state their rights to appeal and at the same time they cannot bring their propaganda on the power of Shariah law . Its a win win situation.”

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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