Human rights and law reform non-governmental organisation Lawyers for Liberty today lambasted the move by several parties to associate religion with the recent landmark court decision siding the transgender community.
Published on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 13:31
KUALA LUMPUR, November 11: Human rights and law reform non-governmental organisation Lawyers for Liberty today lambasted the move by several parties to associate religion with the recent landmark court decision siding the transgender community.
This could lead to attacks against the transgender community, said the NGO’s executive director Eric Paulsen in a statement today.
“Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the escalating religious rhetoric against the transgender community’s landmark constitutional challenge of Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment 1992 which criminalizes men cross dressing.
“Among the statements were: the transgender people were challenging God’s law (Mufti Perak); transgender movement has become a “cancer” (ABIM); calling for “jihad” (Dewan Ulama Pas) and defend Islam “by any method” (minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom),” he said, citing the backlash against the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal which favoured three Muslim transgenders from Negeri Sembilan.
Paulsen said it was shocking and irresponsible for these parties, as respected religious authorities and organisations with wide reach, to respond in such an exaggerated and unrestrained manner to an emotive issue, all the more so since the target was among the most vulnerable communities in Malaysia.
“What if some misguided persons were to take matters into their own hands or take vigilante action against transgender people in the belief they were performing jihad, defending Islam and God’s law against the transgender “cancer”?
“We only need to look at religious inspired hate crimes and mob violence in Pakistan, India and Myanmar to see how dangerous it can be to inflame religious intolerance especially against vulnerable communities,” said Paulsen.
Paulsen said there are other interpretations in Islam on how best to deal with transgenderism and the need to take into account justice, fairness, civil liberties, privacy and modern day changes including recognising gender identity disorder.
“There must be room for progressive thoughts and dialogue, rather than demonising and punishing the transgender people’s existence.
“While Islam is undoubtedly important and recognised as the official religion, this does not make Malaysia a theocracy and must not detract from the fact that Malaysia is founded on parliamentary democracy where the Federal Constitution, which is secular in nature, reigns supreme and guarantees fundamental rights and minority protection,” he said.
Paulsen stressed that the Negeri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment was only a state enactment which must be subservient to the Constitution.
“We applaud the Court of Appeal for standing up and protecting the transgender community’s right to personal liberty, equality, freedom of movement and freedom of expression,” said Paulsen.