After apex court reverses ruling, group sees rise in violence against transgenders

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Advocacy group Justice for Sisters (JFS) claimed today that violence against transgenders have allegedly increased since the Federal Court reversed a landmark ruling and reinstated an anti-crossdressing Shariah law in Negri Sembilan.

Although the Shariah law only affects Muslim men, JFS noted that there have been raids and arrests involving transgenders of various religions, ethnicities and nationalities since the decision on October 8.

“Since the decision by the Federal Court that set aside two court orders, and reinstated Section 66, raids and arrests have taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu and Penang, triggering a wave of fear among the transgender community to freely move,” JFS said in a statement.

JFS said on October 12, three ethnic Indian transgender women were arrested by the police in Brickfields here after a man accused them of stealing his wallet, allegedly in retaliation for the three refusing his request for sexual services.

The three were then remanded for three days under Section 380 of the penal code that criminalises theft — and also spent an extra day in detention due to a public holiday — where there were reports of physical assault, JFS said.

Three days later, 15 transwomen of various nationalities were arrested in a raid in Bukit Bintang, Pudu and Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur, where four of them were charged under Shariah law and appeared in court with their hair shaved.

The remaining eleven were released on bail, but with a condition that only a cisgender male could bail them out, JFS said.

JFS said three Filipino transwomen were arrested in Terengganu on October 21 in a raid by the Immigration Department, where the latter had solicited sexual services from the women as undercover clients.

The three are currently detained at the Ajil immigration depot, and will be investigated under Regulation 39(b) under the Immigration Regulations 1963, which carries a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or prison not exceeding six months, or both, if found guilty, said JFS.

On October 8, the Federal Court had overturned the Court of Appeal’s landmark decision declaring Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment unconstitutional and void, setting back the transgender community’s struggle for its civil rights.

In Negri Sembilan, JFS claimed that religious authorities have harrassed and intimidated the transgender community ever since the day the decision was delivered.

“The religious authorities warned some trans women that they would be arrested if they saw them again in the area,” said JFS.

“We deplore the intimidation and harassment by the authorities towards the women, as these actions are making people feel unsafe in their own homes and to move around freely.”

Activists estimated that there are around 60,000 Malaysian who identify as transgenders, with Malays making up 70 per cent of them.

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