Trans Malaysians win court fight over cross-dressing ban

Published: November 7, 2014

Colin Stewart
Original Article:

A Malaysian court on Friday gave transgender Muslims the right to cross-dress in a landmark decision overturning an Islamic law ban that could trigger similar challenges.

Muslim-majority Malaysia represents itself as the global face of moderate Islam, but at home it has experienced a gradual Islamisation that makes minority groups worry their rights could be eroded in a clash between Islamic law and the constitution.

Several cases challenging Malaysia’s religious law in civil courts have been quashed in recent years, despite guarantees in the constitution on the freedom of expression, religion and gender equality.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal said the law against crossdressing by Muslim men contravened the constitution and did not take account of men affected by gender identity disorder. The law and its punishments were “degrading, oppressive and inhuman,” the three judges added.

Location of Negeri Sambilan in Malaysia. (Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The provision, Section 66 of sharia law in the state of Negeri Sembilan, provides for a fine and a prison sentence of up to six months for any Muslim man who “wears a woman attire and poses as a woman.”

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