Evidence of State-sponsored Violence And Discrimination Against LGBT Persons In Malaysia

In March 2019, Malaysian human rights defender Numan Afifi made an intervention at the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Adoption Reports at the Human Rights Council, Geneva. Amidst scrutiny over interventions by civil society organizations, MACSA and WAFIQ claimed that Numan’s statement was misleading because he used the phrase ‘state-sponsored violence’ to describe state-sponsored anti-LGBT programmes. We are here to clarify the phrase ‘state-sponsored violence’ and offer evidence in support of his intervention.

State-sponsored discrimination and violence refers to any form of mistreatment, violations, and aggressions resulting from the state’s action. The state’s actions could include the enactment of discriminatory laws, policies or directives; allocation of funds for discriminatory activities; and actions or speeches that are hateful, degrading, exclusionary, or incite violence against a group. Violence also refers to the collective harm –psychological, emotional and physical– that the LGBT population in Malaysia have experienced and are experiencing due to state’s actions.

In Malaysia, LGBT people are criminalised through many federal and state laws. There are also multiple government-initiated anti-LGBT programmes, overseen by the Prime Minister’s Department and JAKIM since 2011, most of which focus on rehabilitation and conversion of LGBT persons.

On 23 July 2018, Mujahid Rawa, the Minister at the Prime Minister Department for Religious Affairs, listed the government-sponsored LGBT programmes in Parliament:

    • JAKIM’s voluntary treatment and rehabilitation programme, ‘Ilaj Wa Syifa’;
    • The Mukhayyam program – a 3-day camp introduced in 2011, it was designed as a strategy to reduce HIV transmission among key affected populations, namely Muslim trans women. The programme, listed in the National Strategic Plan to End AIDS 2016-2030, has a few goals: create awareness about HIV, Islam and being a good Muslim; offer job placement and financial assistance for startups; and encourage participants to abandon immoral behaviour, including one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. The government on multiple occasions has promoted the Mukhayyam programme as a rehabilitation camp. This was further reinforced by the Director of JAKIM, who was quoted in an article in July 2017 saying that the programme aims to guide and provide spiritual awareness for the LGBT community through a religious approach to return the participants ‘to the right path’. He noted that participants had changed their appearance, managed their romantic attractions and abandoned their homosexual behaviour. There are also Mukhayyam camps for gay men and lesbian women.The Malaysian AIDS Council has also issued a statement denouncing the harmful effects of Mukhayyam.;
    • Various seminars and programs have been conducted targeting students, school counsellors, parents, volunteers, health staff and representatives of Muslim NGOs, that encourage people to avoid committing ‘LGBT acts’, and encourage others to identify and curb ‘LGBT behaviours’ within their families, social circles, and workplace;
    • Outreach activities: JAKIM claimed they had reached out to over 2,000 LGBT people between 2006 and 2014 to return them “to the right path” through its volunteer and outreach programmes;
    • JAKIM’s e-book ‘Panduan Hijrah Diri’ (available on Google Play Store), and other publications, including a compilation of hadith on ‘LGBT acts’ and a brochure ‘Memahami LGBT dari Perspektif Seorang Muslim’ (Understanding LGBT from a Muslim’s perspective), which promotes  conversion practices.
    • A 5-year action plan Pelan Tindakan Menangani Gejala Sosial Perlakuan LGBT  (Action Plan to address Social Ills LGBT behavior). Alongside 22 partners, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Sport and Youth, Ministry of Women, Development and Community, state Islamic departments and other state agencies, the action plan introduced in July 2016 aims to proactively and efficiently curb ‘LGBT behavior’.

These state-sponsored activities are harmful by design as they employ rehabilitation and conversion practices which aim to curb and suppress the actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of LGBT persons. They also encourage others to intervene in the private and public lives of LGBT persons.

Scientific evidence and studies show that rehabilitation and conversion of LGBT persons result in prolonged psychological harm not only in LGBT persons, but also their family members and loved ones. These harmful practices have been widely rejected by global scientific bodies, medical institutions, and human rights groups. As a result, more countries are increasingly prohibiting conversion practices.

Based on our documentation and anecdotal evidence, LGBT people participate in these government programmes for a variety of reasons. Trans women, in particular, participate in these programmes to seek financial assistance to start small businesses, to avoid being arrested, to network, and to advance their knowledge of Islam. Therefore, the needs of the participants speak to larger and systemic discriminations faced by trans and LGBT persons in accessing employment, freedom of movement, and inclusive and non-judgemental religious spaces. These are the urgent needs of LGBT people that the government should address.

MACSA and WAFIQ argue that the right to participate in these programmes is a religious right of LGBT persons. We maintain that conversion practices cannot be viewed as a religious right. By definition, the assertion of one human rights claim cannot be used to extinguish other rights. Imposing conditions that require LGBT persons to subject themselves to be changed in order to be accepted by their families and Malaysian society is a violent form of discrimination that violates their right to dignity, safety, health, movement, among others.

Moreover, these government-sponsored programmes reinforce misinformation regarding LGBT people, such as the myths that ‘LGBT behaviours’ are caused by hormonal imbalances, psychological disorders, excessive sexual desires, or a lack of parental or spiritual guidance; that LGBT persons deliberately defy cultural, religious, and societal norms; that LGBT persons are the sole vectors of HIV; and that LGBT identities can be corrected. These have all been widely refuted and debunked by major institutions.

When the Malaysian government funds, produces, and spreads such negative views about LGBT persons, it is not surprising that the public adopts these myths as facts. These government efforts manifest in increased aggression, discrimination and violence against LGBT people in physical spaces and social media, with impunity for perpetrators. In the last few years, the government’s position has directly resulted in the proliferation of anti-LGBT groups that promote rehabilitation practices, anti-LGBT campaigns online and in educational institutions, and violent crimes against LGBT persons.

When these violent acts are seen as “corrective”, they become normalised and accepted by the public. As government endorses discrimination, the Malaysian public too does not see their rejection of LGBT persons as a form of discrimination. Given the climate of fear and rejection in which LGBT people live, LGBT people are faced with limited options for survival and acceptance. Their “voluntary” participation to rehabilitation programmes must take into account the fact that they live in an environment that punishes them for their identities and that pressures them to change.

These state-sponsored activities deprive LGBT people of their right to live with dignity, as enshrined in Article 5 of the Federal Constitution. The state has an obligation to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of all persons. We call on the government to immediately end the investigation towards Numan Afifi and other human rights defenders in the course of defending the human rights of LGBT persons. We also call on the government to engage LGBT human rights groups and review its current policies, activities and practices in relation to LGBT persons.

Endorsed by:

    1. Justice for Sisters
    2. Queer Lapis
    3. Seksualiti Merdeka
    4. L-INC Foundation
    5. Beyond Borders
    6. PLUHO, People Like Us Hang Out!
    7. PLUsos (People Like Us Support Ourselves)
    8. PELANGI Campaign
    9. Our Journey, Malaysia
    10. KLSCAH Youth
    11. KL Queer Women Discussion Group
    12. Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists
    13. The Malaysian Feminist
    14. Transmen of Malaysia
    15. All Women Action Society (AWAM)
    16. The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
    17. Tenaganita
    18. North South Initiative (NSI)
    19. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
    20. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
    21. Community Development Centre (CDC)
    22. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
    23. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
    24. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
    25. Center of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERIA)
    26. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA)
    27. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
    28. Diversity
    29. Projek Ilmu Seks
    30. Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC)
    31. Malaysia Muda
    32. PT Foundation
    33. SEED Malaysia
    34. Pertubuhuan Kebajikan dan Kesihatan Umum (PPKUM)
    35. BIKAR ALAM
    37. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
    38. GERAK (Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia)
    39. Women Center for Change (WCC)
    40. Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
    41. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus


Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009),

The Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009) concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) practitioners and advocates.

The report affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity. The task force concluded that the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation. The report recommends affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome.

WPA Position Statement on Gender Identity and Same-Sex Orientation, Attraction, and Behaviours

The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) recognises the universality of same-sex expression, across cultures. It holds the position that a same-sex sexual orientation per se does not imply objective psychological dysfunction or impairment in judgement, stability, or vocational capabilities. WPA considers same-sex attraction, orientation, and behaviour as normal variants of human sexuality. It recognises the multi-factorial causation of human sexuality, orientation, behaviour, and lifestyle. It acknowledges the lack of scientific efficacy of treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation and highlights the harm and adverse effects of such “therapies”.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)’s statement on conversion therapy  

In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) stated that purport to “cure” people with non-heterosexual sexual orientation lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people. Additionally, PAHO also emphasized that therapy to change sexual orientation brings ‘a serious threat to the health and well-being—even the lives—of affected people.’

The Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment A/HRC/22/53

The Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment released in 2013 views conversion or reparative therapies as a form of torture and explicitly calls ‘all States to repeal any law allowing intrusive and irreversible treatments, including forced genital-normalizing surgery, involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation, medical display, “reparative therapies” or “conversion therapies”, when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”

Preliminary observations and recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health Mr. Dainius Pūras Country Visit to Malaysia, 19 November to 2 December 2014

The special rapporteur on health during his visit to Malaysia in November 2014 expressed concerns over the “so-called “corrective therapies” by the state agencies.

Such therapies are not only unacceptable from a human rights perspective, but they are also against scientific evidence, and have a serious negative impact on the mental health and well-being of adolescents. State-led programs to identify, “expose”, and punish LGBT children have contributed to a detrimental educational environment where the inherent dignity of the child is not respected, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is encouraged.”

International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)

International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) removed of all trans-related diagnoses from the mental disorders chapter as ‘evidence is now clear that it is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it in this can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender, there remain significant health care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD.’ Gender incongruence is now reclassified under sexual health conditions in the ICD-11.

American Psychiatric Association, Gender Dysphoria

DSM-5 aims to avoid stigma and ensure clinical care for individuals who see and feel themselves to be a different gender than their assigned gender. It replaces the diagnostic name “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria,” as well as makes other important clarifications in the criteria. It is important to note that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition. … Replacing “disorder” with “dysphoria” in the diagnostic label is not only more appropriate and consistent with familiar clinical sexology terminology, it also removes the connotation that the patient is “disordered”.

The American Psychological Association (APA) removes homosexuality from the DSM

The American Psychological Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) in the 1975, as “research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology” and “heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality.”

Meyer (2003): Prejudice, Social Stress, and Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: Conceptual Issues and Research Evidence.

The prevalence of mental disorders in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs)… shows, using meta-analyses, that LGBs have a higher prevalence of mental disorders than heterosexuals. The author offers a conceptual framework for understanding this excess in prevalence of disorder in terms of minority stress—explaining that stigma, prejudice, and discrimination create a hostile and stressful social environment that causes mental health problems.

Brief media analysis: Media coverage of a Filipina trans woman’s case

A trans woman was arrested and detained in connection to a nude incident in Kuala Lumpur on 13 March 2019. The video of the incident had also gone viral, and received extensive sensational media coverage.

The analysis is based on 27 news reports – 18 in BM and 9 in English – in relation to the case of the Filipina trans woman published on 13, 14, 20 and 21 March 2019.  20 out of the 27 reports had misgendered the trans woman

  • 5 out of the 9 english news reports had misgendered the trans woman. All 5 articles were sourced from bernama
  • 15 out of the 18 articles in BM had misgendered the trans woman. 3 were sourced by bernama

8 out of 11 news reports on 21 March featured a photo of the trans woman with the police officers outside the courtroom. Only 1 out of 8 articles that featured her photo had pixelated her face. 7 out 8 articles exposed her face in the photos.


Terms used to identify the trans woman

  • Lelaki (10)
  • Mak Nyah (4)
  • Transgender (3)
  • Pondan (3)
  • Lelaki berperwatakan wanita (3)
  • He (3)
  • Male (2)
  • Individu (2)
  • Transwoman (1)
  • She (1)
  • Lady (1)
Date Number

of articles BM

Number of articles


Articles Outlet Misgendered

(X  – yes)

13 March 4 2 Dancing in the street: Transgender goes stark naked in Bukit Bintang The star
Naked Transgender Spotted Dancing and Running Up Cars in Bukit Bintang World of buzz
‘Mak nyah’ bogel berjalan, menari tengah jalan gemparkan warga kota! Awani X
[VIDEO] Lelaki berbogel di Bukit Bintang Utusan X
Lelaki warga Filipina berbogel di Bukit Bintang Berita harian X
Pondan bogel ‘catwalk’ tengah kota [METROTV] Harian metro X
14 March 2 1 Dancing transgender in Bukit Bintang remanded for 14 days The star (video)
Pondan berbogel di Bukit Bintang direman 14 hari Berita harian X
Mak nyah bogel tiada masalah mental Harian Metro
20 March 4 2 Pelancong Filipina didakwa berkelakuan tidak sopan dengan panjat kereta sambil berbogel Bernama X
[UPDATE] Mak nyah bogel ‘menginap’ di penjara Harian metro
Pelancong Filipina didakwa panjat kereta sambil berbogel Mkni (bernama) X
Warga Filipina berbogel panjat kereta di tempat awam didakwa Malaysian insight X
Filipino tourist charged with indecent behaviour after Bukit Bintang strip-off Malaymail X
Filipino tourist who strolled naked in centre of KL charged FMT X
21 March 8 4 Filipino trans woman pleads not guilty to public obscenity NST
Second charge for Filipino tourist who strolled naked in KL FMT X
Filipino tourist charged for strolling naked in KL The sun X
Filipino tourist charged with insulting public’s modesty Bernama X
Mak nyah bogel dihantar ke Penjara Sungai Buloh Kosmo
Bogel di tempat awam: Pelancong Filipina didakwa lagi Sinar harian X
Video tular, pelancong bogel didakwa di mahkamah Bernama X
Pelancong Filipina didakwa ganggu kesantunan orang awam dengan berbogel di Jalan Sultan Ismail Awani X
Pondan tak mengaku ganggu kesantunan Utusan X
Pondan Bogel Di Jalan Imbi Dihantar Penjara Warta daily X
Pelancong Filipina didakwa lagi ganggu kesantunan orang awam dengan berbogel Bernama X
Pondan bogel ditahan di penjara BH X
Total 18 9 20


Articles published on 21 March 2019 (on second charge)

Title Media outlet Terms used Misgendered Name as per IC revealed Photo
Mak nyah bogel dihantar ke Penjara Sungai Buloh Kosmo mak nyah No Yes Photo with police, face revealed
Filipino transwoman pleads not guilty to public obscenity NST transwoman No Yes Photo with police, face revealed
Second charge for Filipino tourist who strolled naked in KL FMT He Yes Yes Photo with police, face revealed
Filipino tourist charged for strolling naked in KL The sun He Yes Yes Photo with police, face revealed
Filipino tourist charged with insulting public’s modesty Bernama He Yes Yes File pic
Bogel di tempat awam: Pelancong Filipina didakwa lagi Sinar harian Pelancong lelaki


Yes Yes Photo with police, face pixelated
Video tular, pelancong bogel didakwa di mahkamah Bernama Lelaki Yes Yes File pic
Pelancong Filipina didakwa ganggu kesantunan orang awam dengan berbogel di Jalan Sultan Ismail Awani Lelaki Yes Photo with police, face revealed
Pondan tak mengaku ganggu kesantunan Utusan Pondan Yes Yes Photo with police, face revealed
Pondan Bogel Di Jalan Imbi Dihantar Penjara Warta daily lelaki berperwatakan wanita Yes Yes Photo with police, face revealed police
Pelancong Filipina didakwa lagi ganggu kesantunan orang awam dengan berbogel Bernama Lelaki Yes Yes File pic
Pondan bogel ditahan di penjara BH Pondan

lelaki berperwatakan wanita

Yes Yes Photo with police, face revealed



Apply Standing Orders towards offensive speech against LGBT people

Justice for Sisters is deeply horrified by the discriminatory and offensive speeches and language used in Parliament by several Members of Parliament (MP) in relation to LGBT people on 14 and 18 March 2019 — and that these repeated discriminatory speeches against LGBT people have gone unchecked.

Particularly since the Women’s Day March, debates in Parliament have been tainted by the use of degrading and dehumanizing language such as ‘jijik’ (disgusting) and ‘songsang (deviant); sexual innuendos; comparisons of LGBT people to animals; and calls for the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of LGBT persons in Malaysia. These are all forms of extreme, discriminatory and offensive speech that incite hate and violence towards LGBT people.

Furthermore, these discriminatory and anti-LGBT statements are repeatedly made by a handful of people. These repeat offenders include Dato’ Dr. Haji Noor Azmi bin Ghazali [PH- Bagan Serai], and Puan Hajah Siti Zailah binti Mohd Yusoff [PAS-Rantau Panjang].

It is even more disturbing to note Puan Hajah Siti Zailah’s prejudicial sentiments, given the fact she is on the Parliament Select Committee on Gender and Rights. This Committee and its members are guided by the standards set by the UN conventions Malaysia has ratified and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This means upholding the human rights principles and values of equality, non-discrimination, dignity, diversity, respect, and choice for all persons.

Articles 36(4) and 36(10)(c) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat give guidance to MPs against speaking offensively and promoting feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities in our country. And yet, in sessions on 14 and 18 March, the MPs were allowed to make vile, hysterical, non-evidence based and fear-mongering statements about LGBT people without consequences.

We call on the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to act on their duty to all Malaysian people to apply the Standing Orders, to which all MPs are bound, and to uphold the fundamental rights and protections that all Malaysian people are guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. Just as any MP could – and should – invoke these articles to call out offensive speech against groups of people based on their ethnicity, religion or other identities, we call on the Speaker and other MPs to call out those who make offensive remarks against LGBT persons.

Homophobia and transphobia is the same as racism, sexism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination. No religion allows discrimination, violence and coercion towards others. Homophobia and transphobia is not limited LGBTIQ persons. Especially in the Malaysian context, many people, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, experience discrimination based on their association with LGBT people or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition, over the past few years, we have seen an increase of violence, hate crimes and discrimination against LGBT people by diverse actors in various spaces, including educational institutions, workplaces, and homes. We are also seeing an increase of vigilante and anti-LGBT groups employing variousmethods to punish and rehabilitate LGBT people. We are concerned that these statements by public officials will further increase misinformation about and sanction violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Malaysia, with no consequences for the perpetrators.

In ensuring a Malaysia that is harmonious, peaceful and safe for all persons, the speaker of Parliament and MPs have a duty to intervene in discriminatory speeches against LGBT persons, as these speeches have adverse impacts on the perception, attitude and treatment of not only LGBT people, but those who also support the human rights of LGBT persons in Malaysia. Justice for Sisters looks forward to working with the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and MPs who are committed to the wellbeing of all Malaysians and everyone who calls this country home.



Standing Orders of the DEWAN RAKYAT

36 (4) It shall be out of order for Members of the House to use offensive language or make a sexist remark.

36 (10) It shall be out of order to use –

  • (c)  words which are likely to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities in the Federation or infringe any provision of the Constitution or the Sedition Act 1948.


Members of Parliament who have made discriminatory and offensive remarks against LGBT people in Parliament

Parliament session 1 (16 July – 16 August 2018)

  • Puan Hajah Siti Zailah binti Mohd Yusoff [Rantau Panjang] (multiple times)
  • Tuan Haji Ahmad Amzad bin Mohamed @ Hashim [Kuala Terengganu] (multiple times)
  • Dato’ Dr. Noor Azmi bin Ghazali [Bagan Serai] (multiple times)
  • Dato’ Haji Ahmad Nazlan bin Idris [Jerantut] (multiple times)
  • Ustaz Haji Hassanudin [Hulu Langat] (multiple times)
  • Dato’ Tuan Ibrahim bin Tuan Man [Kubang Kerian]
  • Dato’ Hajah Azizah binti Mohd Dun [Beaufort]


Parliament session 2 (15 October – 11 December 2018)

  • Puan Hajah Siti Zailah binti Mohd Yusoff [Rantau Panjang] (multiple times)
  • Tuan Haji Ahmad Amzad bin Mohamed @ Hashim [Kuala Terengganu]
  • Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi [Bagan Datuk]
  • Tuan Nik Nazmi bin Nik Ahmad [Setiawangsa]
  • Dato’ Tuan Ibrahim bin Tuan Man [Kubang Kerian]
  • Dato’ Dr. Mohd Khairuddin bin Aman Razali [Kuala Nerus]
  • Datin Mastura binti Mohd Yazid [Kuala Kangsar]
  • Datuk Seri Haji Ahmad bin Haji Maslan [Pontian]
  • Dato’ Sri Bung Moktar bin Radin [Kinabatangan]


Parliament session 3 (11 March – on-going)

  • Dato’ Dr. Haji Noor Azmi bin Ghazali [Bagan Serai] (multiple times)
  • Puan Hajah Siti Zailah binti Mohd Yusoff [Rantau Panjang]
  • Datuk Haji Hasanuddin bin Mohd Yunus [Hulu Langat]
  • Tuan Haji Awang bin Hashim [Pendang]
  • Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob [Bera]
  • Tuan Sanisvara Nethaji Rayer a/l Rajaji [Jelutong]


Women’s March: The government must provide protection, not persecution

The Malaysian government’s responses towards the International Women’s Day march (March 9 2019) have been heavy-handed and grossly misplaced. By calling the march “haram” and claiming that the LGBT people are abusing democracy, the government seems to be reinforcing the harmful public rhetoric and prejudices towards women, marginalised people and LGBT people. This sanctions further victimisation, discrimination and violence against the organisers and attendees of the march. In addition, the police also announced that 7 individuals linked to the march will be called in for questioning under the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Sedition Act. Instead of investigating the organisers and speakers of the march, a caring and democratic government should call them in for a dialogue and provide adequate protection and support to address the reprisals.

The women’s march on Saturday represented diversity, unity, strength and clarity in the articulation of our collective vision for a society free from patriarchy, discrimination and violence. Marginalised women participated in the march precisely because they wish to be heard and to participate in building our democracy. They spoke with passion and clarity about their truth and lived realities. Targeting them therefore goes against the state’s obligation to protect the marginalised and eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women. The government’s response to target the organizers and  marginalised women for exercising their right to assembly and expression in the month of International Women’s Day is not only ironic but also oppressive and regressive. The current government had in fact pledged to repeal Sedition Act and discriminatory provisions under the Peaceful Assembly Act.

We remind the Government that during Malaysia’s CEDAW review in 2018, the CEDAW committee had expressed concern over the situation of women human rights defenders, in particular those advocating for Muslim women’s rights, the rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, as well as for democratic reforms.

We reiterate the CEDAW committee’s recommendation to “ensure that women human rights defenders can freely undertake their important work without fear or threat of arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation, including the issuance of fatwas by religious institutions, by fully guaranteeing their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.”

Indeed the threats against the marchers have resulted in adverse impacts on many women who participated in the march. As a result of exercising their right to expression and assembly, many of the women who marched have found their privacy, security and safety threatened. The online backlash had also resulted in a significant number of people harassed by parents, friends, schoolmates, colleagues and employers for attending the women’s march, since the media has deliberately mischaracterised it as an ‘LGBT march’. At least 4 persons are questioned by employers on their presence at the march, causing fear over job security and bullying.

The government must not take the side of the bullies. Denying a group of marginalised groups their right to participate in democracy is truly an abuse of democracy. In fact, democracy requires the participation of everyone, especially minorities and the marginalised. The current administration was built upon that very foundation of rule of law and justice, with promises made in its manifesto to ensure that women are prioritised and the marginalised are included. Many diverse persons, including LGBT people, voted, volunteered as PACAs, and committed to the change in the ruling government. And last Saturday, we marched to hold the new government accountable in keeping its promises.

We call for the government to end all investigations against the human rights defenders, and take a rights based response in addressing this. The priority must go to addressing the reprisals, discrimination, and not perpetuate victimisation of human rights defenders and people from marginalised communities.

The government, particularly the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Communications & Multimedia  must stand on the side of all women. They must immediately call for an end to the threats and violence faced by the organisers and participants online and offline. Additionally, the media must stop instigating fear and hatred towards a marginalised community in the New Malaysia.

The government has a duty to remind the public to be calm and proportionate in their responses, and create spaces for dialogues. The government needs to defend the women’s march as people’s active participation in democracy and defend democracy as a space for all.

Endorsed by:

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. Malaysia Design Archive
  3. Queer Lapis
  4. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  5. Pelangi Campaign
  6. In Between Cultura
  7. Diversity Malaysia
  8. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
  9. People Like Us, Hang Out! (PLUHO)
  10. Tenaganita
  11. Transmen of Malaysia (TOM)
  12. Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
  13. Women Center for Change (WCC)
  14. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  15. Seksualiti Merdeka
  16. SAWO (Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group)
  17. KRYSS
  18. CIJ Malaysia
  20. Society for Equality, Respect, and Trust for all (SERATA)
  22. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  23. Bersih Sabah
  24. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA)

Rise of crimes and violence against trans women needs urgent attention

On January 1, 2019, a body of a trans woman was found along Jalan Batu Nilai in Klang. Preliminary reports show that she had sustained a number of injuries on her knees, ankle and other parts of the body. The death of the woman raises serious concerns and suspicion. A suspect has been arrested and remanded in connection to the case. He claims that the victim had jumped out of a moving vehicle upon being confronted about stealing the suspect’s handphone.

We are extremely concerned over the rise in cases of violence and crimes against trans women in Malaysia. Including this case, at least 3 cases of murder have been reported between November 2018 and January 2019. 2 of which took place in Klang. This brings the cases of reported murders of trans women to a total of 18 cases since 2007, averaging at 1.5 cases a year.

In many of the reported cases of murder of trans women, the victims often suffer excessive and extreme violence or torture. Based on the 18 reported murders of trans women in Malaysia, the victims were subjected to torture, including being beaten to death with a hammer, strangled, gagged, stabbed multiple times, physically assaulted, pushed from a building, drowned in a water retention pond, shot, mutilated, etc.

The brutal and excessive violence or torture has to be looked at closely. The elements of torture in these crimes suggest a number of things, including increased rage or hate by perpetrators against trans women, impunity enjoyed by people who commit violence against trans women, amongst others.

We welcome the swift actions by the police, and we look forward to a thorough, unbiased and objective investigation. It is imperative that the police corroborates the evidence and thoroughly investigate the case to ensure justice for victims and their loved ones.

Reported cases of murder of trans women in Malaysia between 2007 and January 2019


Number of reported cases murder of trans women



























Address stigma, stereotypes and misconceptions against trans women to increase access to justice

Stigma, stereotypes and misconceptions against trans women increase and justify violence against trans people. Stereotypes and misconceptions such as trans people being unnatural, immoral or against religions and laws give the impression to others that they have the right to violate and abuse trans people.

People commit crimes against LGBTIQ persons because social stigma and discriminatory laws protect the abusers. Our society not only denies the rights of trans women but also target them through laws. When the laws target trans women, this forces them to live in the margins and become resigned to a life of discrimination, violence, abuse and neglect. Therefore, those who abuse trans women often do so because they know they can get away with it. All of which reinforces the culture of impunity.

In addition, these stereotypes and stigma often disadvantage trans women, effectively hindering a thorough and unbiased investigation, ultimately denying access to justice. In many cases of violence and crimes against trans women, trans women are not only blamed but are seen as the guilty party. The stigma and stereotypes in relation to trans women also often allow for absurd defence by the perpetrators. Some common narratives include narratives that position perpetrators as acting or reacting out of self-defence, to protect themselves from theft/crime, repulsion, or rejection of sexual advancements. This plays into the stereotypes of trans women being criminals and immoral, often resulting in lack of adequate penalties against perpetrators for the violence and crimes committed.

Perpetrators must be held accountable. However, punishment alone will not resolve this systemic issue. Perpetrators, and society in general,  should be provided with adequate support and information on gender and sexuality to ensure meaningful change in attitudes, behaviour and understanding of diversity. Education and efforts to dismantle legal and non-legal barriers experienced and create an inclusive and affirming environment are extremely critical in reducing crimes, violence and discrimination against trans people and marginalized communities.

Need for proactive preventive measures

With the rising cases of violence and murder against trans women specifically, and LGBT people in general, the police have a critical role to play in reversing this trend.

Firstly, we call for the police to introduce a guideline on handling, documenting and analyzing cases of murder and crimes in relation to trans people and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer people (LGBTIQ+). Documentation and analysis of the cases of crimes and violence against trans women and LGBTIQ+ people are important to develop an understanding of the trend of the violence and to design specific interventions.

Our documentation and reported cases of murders show that gangsters, vigilante groups, intimate partner, clients of sex workers, strangers (often young persons) are the perpetrators of violence and crimes. Based on the cases, the perpetrators are all cisgender men across a wide age spectrum. This shows us that there is a critical need to address toxic masculinity and increase gender education in our society. Our documentation also shows communities and areas that are more vulnerable to crimes and violence. For example, trans women sex workers have increased vulnerabilities due to their increased exposure to diverse types of people. The emergence of vigilante groups, which often operate under the guise of residential patrol groups, for example, Kedah has also increased cases of violence against trans women.

It is important to note that cases of violence and crimes experienced by trans women are not reported or under-reported. This correlates with the trust deficit in the police, the perpetrator prey/victim dynamics between police and trans women, and lack of protection for trans people. The general lack of confidence in the police to swiftly and thoroughly investigate cases often prevents trans women from seeking justice, report cases, and in some cases, come forward as witnesses. Thus, it is extremely important for the local police departments to engage with the affected communities and bridge this trust deficit in order to efficiently ensure safety and security for all. We also call for the police to engage trans women communities in Klang, Kedah and other hotspots that have recorded a high number of cases of violence and crimes against trans women.

Crimes and violence towards trans women and LGBTQ people are rising at an alarming rate. The murder of the trans woman on New Year’s Day is a reminder of the realities that trans people live in and the urgency to amplify efforts in addressing violence and crimes against trans and LGBTQ people. These crimes and violence have an overarching impact on the safety, security and well-being of all persons, more so trans people. These continuous traumatic events of violence and crimes, if not addressed with an evidence and rights-based approach, will further isolate trans and LGBTQ people and increase the trust deficit in police and the government.

Endorsed by:

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  3. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  4. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  5. Malaysian Design Archive (MDA)
  6. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  7. People Like Us, Hangout (PLUHO)
  8. Pelangi Campaign
  9. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
  10. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  11. Tenaganita
  12. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
  13. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  14. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
  15. Seksualiti Merdeka
  16. Queer Lapis
  17. PT Foundation

Annex 1

Documented cases of violence and crimes based on gender identity, gender expression and actual or perceived sexual orientation

No Year Details State
1 2012 and 2013 A group of gangsters in Pahang, physically assaulted over 13 trans women with steel chains, helmets and steel bars in a spate of attacks, resulting in serious injuries. Based on media reports and I am Scared to be a Woman, a report by Human Rights Watch, one woman being ‘beaten into a coma’ and some received between 18 and 78 stitches as a result of the assault. Pahang
2 2015 A trans woman human rights defender was attacked in the vicinity of her home Kuala Lumpur
3 June 2017 A young person in Penang died as result of physical assault and torture by a group of former schoolmates. The perpetrators had previously bullied the victim in school due to his ‘effeminate’ gender expression Penang
4 2017 A Thai trans woman was stabbed multiple times by a client in Penang Penang
5 January 2017 – January 2018 At least 12 cases of break ins and property destruction by persons in residential areas, strangers or unknown perpetrators; physical attacks, humiliation and torture by vigilante groups disguised as community policing or residential groups

Skuad Badar Sungai Petani emerged on social media platforms, urging religious authorities to take action on trans women. We have also received information that this group has harassed, detained and attacked the trans women in the community, including shaving the heads of trans women in their custody

Multiple states in Malaysia
6 March 2018 Attacks and harassment of a few Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) volunteers by a few individuals for allegedly being LGBT supporters after the Women’s March on 10th March 2018 Kuala Lumpur
7 August 2018 A trans woman in Seremban was severely assaulted by a group of men resulting in serious injuries to spleen, spinal cord, rib bones, amongst others. Negeri Sembilan
8 December 2018 A video of two gay men assaulted by a group of men for allegedly being intimate in a car went viral on social media platforms Selangor


TDOR: Ending gender based violence against transgender & gender diverse persons in malaysia

Today, on transgender day of remembrance (TDOR), we remember transgender and gender diverse persons who have died due to gender based violence and hate. Transgender and gender diverse persons are disproportionately vulnerable to gender based violence due to multiple factors, including lack of protection, recognition of transgender persons and gender diverse populations, access to information regarding gender identity, among other factors.

Globally, between October 2017 and September, a total of 2018,369 trans and gender-diverse people were reportedly killed. This is an increase of 44 cases compared to last year’s reported numbers cases. This brings to a total of 2,982 trans and gender diverse people of cases of murder reported in 72 countries between January 2008 and September 2018.

However, these are only the reported numbers. Many cases are not reported or misreported. Case in point, the murder trial of a trans woman involving two Chilean tourists that concluded recently on 2 November 2018. Media reports of the trial show that the victim, a trans woman was misgendered throughout the trial. When trans people are misgendered (use of wrong gender markers), it not only strips away trans people’s dignity and right to self-determination, but it also makes it challenging to document and collate cases of crimes against trans people.

In Malaysia, between 2007 and November 2018, at least 14 cases of murder involving trans women as victims were reported. The most recent case reported was in November this year, where a trans woman was allegedly murdered by her partner. The perpetrator has been charged with murder and awaits trial early next year. He was not represented by a lawyer.

While some these cases are investigated, often they are not classified and analyzed correctly using a gender and rights based lens. They are seen, as isolated cases, which result in lack of specific interventions or solutions to the gender-based violence, hate crimes and transphobia experienced by trans people. Consequently, these experiences of violence and crimes by trans people remain invisible, become prolonged and cyclic.

According to the facts of the recent case, an altercation between the perpetrator and victim occurred concerning jealousy and money related issues, which escalated to the death of the woman after the perpetrator, strangled her. Similar cases involving trans women have been documented and reported in the past. In 2016, a trans woman was found murdered after an altercation with allegedly her boyfriend.

Rising hate crime and speech

Hate crimes and speech towards transgender people online and offline are on the rise and correlate. The increase of hateful and discriminatory speech in Malaysia emboldens the perpetrators and vigilante groups to carry out acts of violence against transgender persons with impunity.

In August 2018, a trans woman in Negeri Sembilan was assaulted by a group of men, including youths, resulting in serious injuries, including broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. Justice for Sisters also received complaints of harassment of trans women by vigilante groups in Kedah. While these are enough to ring alarm bells, we believe there are many other cases of hate crimes.

Recent trends to of boycotts and protest against transgender women entrepreneurs on social media are also a point of concern. In October 2018, a few trans women entrepreneurs were prevented from participating in an expo in Perak due to protest by local groups. This further demonstrates the shrinking spaces and the escalation of violence towards trans people.

TDOR reminds us of the impact of marginalization and multiple forms of oppression that trans and gender-diverse people face daily. Together we can change this situation and dismantle oppression. Together we are in solidarity with trans and gender diverse people everywhere resisting and dismantling oppression.

Tiada akses kepada keadilan bagi LGBT dalam sistem perundangan

Kes sebatan dua orang wanita di Terengganu pada 3hb September merupakan satu titik hitam yang traumatik bagi rakyat Malaysia, terutamanya individu LGBT dan golongan wanita.

Justice for Sisters telah mengikuti perkembangan kes ini sejak awal dan telah turut hadir di mahkamah pada 3 September sebagai pemerhati selain memberi sokongan kepada kedua-dua wanita tersebut. Walaupun tidak mengenali mereka, kami hadir sebagai tanda solidariti kerana kami yakin bahawa apa yang berlaku kepada mereka adalah satu bentuk penindasan. Tidak dapat dibayangkan segala tekanan dan kesukaran yang terpaksa dihadapi oleh mereka dalam mengharungi proses hukuman.

Antara isu yang dibangkitkan adalah kedua-dua wanita tersebut mempunyai tempoh 14 hari untuk membuat rayuan, namun sekiranya mereka tidak mempunyai akses kepada sokongan perundangan yang menjaga hak dan kepentingan mereka, bagaimana boleh mereka melakukan rayuan tersebut?

Menurut laporan Harian Metro pada Julai 2018, kedua-dua wanita mengaku tidak bersalah pada hari sebutan kes. Susulan itu, tarikh baru bagi sebutan semula kes ditetapkan untuk serahan dokumen dan lantikan peguam. Kedua-duanya diikat jamin dengan RM 3,000 seorang. Apabila seseorang itu tidak mengaku bersalah mereka dilepaskan dengan ‘bond’ mahkamah sebagai jaminan yang mereka akan menghadiri perbicaraan seterusnya.

Akses kepada sokongan perundangan adalah satu perkara yang sangat kritikal bagi semua orang, terutamanya individu LGBT dalam kes-kes sebegini. Mengikut pengalaman Justice for Sisters dalam memberikan sokongan perundangan kepada individu-individu LGBT, terutamanya individu transgender, kami dapati amat sukar sekali untuk mendapatkan khidmat peguam apabila hendak mempertahankan diri di mahkamah. Kami juga pernah berdepan situasi di mana individu-individu wanita transgender yang pada mulanya tidak mengaku bersalah terpaksa mengaku salah akibat ketiadaan peguam yang memahami dan menghormati anak guamnya, atau mampu memberi nasihat guaman yang betul.

Berdasarkan pengalaman kami, kedua-dua wanita tersebut yang pada mulanya tidak mengaku bersalah mungkin tidak dapat mencari peguam syariah untuk mewakili mereka lalu menukar pengakuan mereka kemudian.

Terdapat banyak perkara yang menafikan atau menidakkan keadilan bagi individu LGBT termasuk kesukaran untuk mendapat akses kepada peguam syariah yang menghormati hak kemanusiaan anak guamnya. Selain itu, individu LGBT juga mungkin tidak mendapat sokongan daripada kawan-kawan dan keluarga malah mengalami penyisihan, reaksi negatif serta tekanan daripada stigma masyarakat dan sensasi media massa.

Penting untuk dinyatakan bahawa bantuan kerajaan melalui Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Kebangsaan (YBGK) dan Jabatan Bantuan Guaman tidak memberi perkhidmatan peguam syariah secara percuma untuk kes-kes jenayah syariah. YBGK hanya menyediakan bantuan guaman bagi kes-kes sivil dan kes-kes cerai percuma untuk golongan berpendatan rendah.

Kedua, harus diingati bahawa bukan semua peguam, terutama peguam syariah, mahu mengambil kes berkenaan isu-isu LGBT. Realitinya agak mustahil untuk mencari peguam syariah untuk mewakili individu LGBT dan mempertahankan haknya. Justice for Sisters sendiri sudah banyak kali mengalami kesukaran dan buntu dalam cubaan mendapatkan peguam syariah yang berani mewakili kes-kes individu LGBT, dan pada masa yang sama menghormati identiti klien LGBT. Apabila peguam tidak menghormati identiti  anak guam mereka, ini meningkatkan lagi ketidakyakinan pada keadilan dalam sistem perundangan syariah di Malaysia.

Jika ada peguam yang sudi mewakili individu LGBT, nasihat guaman mereka selalunya adalah agar anak guam mereka mengaku bersalah supaya kes tidak berlarutan. Ada kalanya, sudah wujud prasangka dan prejudis terhadap individu LGBT sebelum menilai kes terlebih dahulu. Peguam-peguam syariah juga tidak terbuka kepada hujah dan dalil yang lebih progresif dan berasaskan prinsip-prinsip hak asasi manusia.

Artikel 5 dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia menetapkan bahawa setiap rakyat Malaysia mempunyai hak untuk dibela oleh peguam pilihannya. Adalah tidak memadai jika hak itu wujud sekadar tulisan teks dalam Perlembagaan. Justeru, kerajaan bertanggungjawab untuk memastikan akses kepada peguam bagi semua jenis kes di bawah mahkamah syariah.

Perlaksanaan hukuman sebatan

Sepertimana yang telah berlaku pada 3 September 2018, jam 10 pagi, dua orang wanita disebat 6 kali setiap seorang di depan khalayak. Hukuman itu dilaksanakan oleh pegawai Jabatan Penjara daripada Kajang dan Pengkalan Chepa.

Banyak yang perlu diteliti dalam kes ini. Pertama, walaupun hukuman dijatuhkan oleh Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Terengganu, perlaksanaan sebat dikendalikan oleh pegawai Jabatan Penjara daripada Kajang, Selangor dan Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan. Jabatan Penjara terletak di bawah kuasa kerajaan pusat. Persoalannya, apakah peranan kerajaan pusat dalam perlaksanaan hukuman tersebut?

Sebatan dan pengaiban terhadap kedua-dua wanita tersebut adalah zalim dan satu bentuk penyeksaan. Cara pengendalian kes mereka, bermula dengan penangkapan sehinggalah hari ni setelah hukuman dilaksanakan, amat tidak berperikemanusiaan. Mereka diaibkan begitu teruk sehingga video yang menunjukkan mereka diserbu media tersebar luas di media sosial. Malah istilah keji seperti ‘pasangan songsang’ digunakan oleh media untuk merujuk kepada mereka. Ada juga yang membuat perbandingan antara sebatan di penjara sivil dan sebatan mengikut syara’ tanpa memahami impak psikologi yang dialami kedua-dua mereka dan impak hukuman sebatan secara umum. Kesemua ini meningkatkan lagi trauma dan stigma terhadap mereka.

Ada pula pihak yang menyuarakan sokongan terhadap hukuman sebatan tersebut dengan menyatakan hukuman ini ialah satu bentuk rahmat daripada Allah. Kerajaan Negeri Kelantan dan Pahang kini juga bercadang untuk memperkenalkan hukuman sebat untuk individu LGBT di negeri masing-masing.

Kami bimbang dengan cara pemikiran sebegini. Masyarakat Malaysia harus memandang serius penerimaan dan normalisasi keganasan sebagai satu bentuk pengajaran dan rahmat dari Tuhan. Kita tidak boleh menjustifikasikan pengaiban, penyeksaan, dan keganasan di atas nama agama dan Tuhan. Pengaibkan dan kebencian terhadap kedua-dua wanita tersebut adalah perbuatan manusia yang lahir daripada perasaan prejudis. Ia bertentangan sama sekali dengan prinsip-prinsip yang diketengahkan semua agama yang menekankan keadilan sosial dan kasih sayang.

Sebagai masyarakat madani kita harus memastikan perkara ini tidak lagi berterusan. Kita haruslah menghentikan semua bentuk hukuman sebat kerana hukuman ini tidak berfaedah kepada sesiapa dan ternyata ia  adalah satu betuk penyeksaan semata-mata.

Wanita tak mengaku cuba lakukan seks sejenis https://www.hmetro.com.my/mutakhir/2018/07/355808/wanita-tak-mengaku-cuba-lakukan-seks-sejenis