AIDS council backs transgenders’ legal battle

James Lim | October 17, 2012

The Malaysian AIDS Council supports the four transgenders who challenged a dress ban on Muslim men dressing as women.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) stands in solidarity with the four transgender individuals who lost their bid in challenging the ban on Muslim men to dress and pose as women.

MAC said it is deeply concerned over any negative impacts on the greater transgender community as caused by the Negeri Sembilan Syariah court judgment.

“Transgenders too are productive members of society.

“Denying their gender identity or expression will only cause them to live their lives in constant fear, and limit their opportunities to attain meaningful livelihoods.

“At MAC, we believe in compassion- the universal value that guides all our actions and responses – and strive to eliminate environments that breed intolerance, persecution and penalisation of marginalised communities,” said the Council in a statement.

Previously, the four transgender individuals applied for a judicial review to declare Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment as unconstitutional. The enactment banned men from dressing and posing as women.

However, Justice Siti Mariah Ahmad ruled that it was undisputed as the four applications were Muslims, hence Section 66 applied to them.

Meanwhile, the MAC highlighted the misconceptions of HIV as pertaining to the case.

“MAC also strongly objects to the court’s insinuation that being a transgender will increase the person’s vulnerability to HIV infection.

“Gender identity or sexual orientation does not predispose one to HIV; unsafe sexual practices do,”the Council explained.
MAC together with partner organisation, PT Foundation, said it welcomed the call by Justice Siti Mariah Ahmad to work closely with the religious authorities of Negeri Sembilan.

“We believe this engagement is a step in the right direction to remove all structural barriers to health equities – particularly gender and sexuality-based discrimination – that has been known to negatively affect access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services,” added MAC

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