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.

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


Does New Malaysia Mean All of Us Without Exception?

On 9 May this year, Malaysians did the unthinkable when they unseated Barisan Nasional, the only political coalition to ever govern the country. Corruption in government had become endemic, ethnic and religious tensions overbearing, laws increasingly repressive. Having had enough of it all, people from all walks of life chose instead Pakatan Harapan, the coalition that promised hope, change and inclusion for everyone. So historic was the outcome of the 9 May general election that it was given the epithet ‘Malaysia Baru’ (New Malaysia).

Familiar wounds for LGBT people

Three months have passed since then, and many marginalised communities are left wondering when the promised change will come. The LGBT community, long persecuted by the previous regime, has not received any respite in Malaysia Baru. Merely weeks into his job, an aide to the newly minted Minister of Youth and Sports was forced to resign when opposition supporters hounded him on social media over his sexuality. His employers, the government, chose not to defend him. Soon after that, two LGBT activists had their portraits removed from a photography exhibition in Penang on the instruction of the new Minister of Islamic Affairs.

Following these events, which were widely reported in the media and fiercely debated on social media, a trans woman in Negeri Sembilan was assaulted by a gang of eight men with wood and pipes. A bar in Kuala Lumpur was then raided by the Federal Territories Religious Department (JAWI), an ‘old Malaysia’ type operation that was defended by the Minister of Federal Territories. In between all these incidents, LGBT people are told over and over again they cannot have the same rights and protection as others in Malaysia–and can only exist in private spaces, leaving LGBT people with no legitimate recourse against the forceful ‘guidance’ of religious authorities.

“The increasing hostility towards our community didn’t come out of sudden. It is a manifestation of decades of neglect and oppression, as well as denial of identity and rights by religious elites and the government. How much violence needs to happen before we do anything to stop this?” states Numan Afifi, community organiser on LGBT and youth rights.

All of this happened within the 100 days of the new administration. And as the fireworks flare this weekend for the country’s first Independence celebration in this new political era, two young women await caning by the Syariah court in Terengganu. The women were detained by religious authorities in April this year and charged for “attempting to have sex”. They were each fined RM3,300 and face six strokes of the rotan (cane). Despite promises to uphold human rights in Malaysia Baru, this inhumane sentence remains imminent for the two women.

“This climate makes LGBT communities feel helpless and threatened, especially with the increase of hate crimes and discriminatory comments. This sentence will only encourage perpetrators and aggressors to continue their hostility, violence and acts of aggression towards the community. Besides that, the recent events will increase Islamophobia and misconceptions regarding Islam among Malaysians, which is already at a worrying state,” says Chong Yee Shan, human rights activist from Diversity Malaysia.

Continued inhumane and discriminatory form of sentencing against LGBT persons

There are many long-standing questions surrounding the Terengganu case: Should these women even be subjected to such cruel, degrading and inhumane punishment just to be made examples of to others? Did these women have access to legal counsel or aid? Where will the sentence be executed? Will it be carried out in a federal prison? And if so, can the federal authority execute a sentence of caning against a Muslim woman when the Prison Regulations 2000 forbids corporal punishment to be applied to a female prisoner (of any age)? What does this punishment mean in this current state of alarming rhetoric, discrimination, violence against LGBT persons?

Secretary General of PROHAM (Society for the Promotion of Human Rights) Ivy Josiah states, “Caning and whipping must be erased in both the Penal and Syariah Codes as a form of punishment as it against the grain of any religious and human rights principle that the preservation of human dignity is paramount. Otherwise the government’s recent announcement that it will accede to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment appear feeble and insincere. Furthermore, Parliament must put an end to the inconsistency and answer this legal question: Can a federal authority execute a sentence of whipping against a Muslim woman when the Prison Regulations 2000 forbids corporal punishment to be applied to a female prisoner (of any age), or a male prisoner who is more than 50-years-old?”

This issue has also been raised by the CEDAW Committee in its recommendation to the government of Malaysia in the March 2018 review. The Committee called on the government to “[h]armonize Syariah law with section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code to prohibit the whipping of women as a form of punishment;” (para. 24 (e), CEDAW/C/MYS/CO/3-5).

The Terengganu case will be the first time such a harsh punishment is meted out against women since the May general election, in less than six months since this recommendation was received.

“Since the new government, I have noticed increased oppression targeting LGBT persons done in the name of religion. This severe sentence violates the rights of women and is against the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. It should not exist in this era of New Malaysia. This is not only about the caning of the two women who are accused for their sexual orientation, but about violations against humanity and oppression towards another human being,” states transgender rights activist, Nisha Ayub.

The Malaysian Bar Council stated their unreserved opposition to caning and corporal punishment in a recent press statement on this issue, and further notes that this is “a harsh and barbaric form of punishment that causes harmful and long-lasting psychological effects, and has no place in a modern and compassionate society such as ours.” They further call for an “immediate moratorium against all forms of corporal punishment, and to repeal provisions for such punishment in all legislation.”

Caning was executed against a woman for the first time in Malaysia in 2010 under the previous Najib Razak administration, which it did in secrecy and only announced a few days after the fact. This raises concerns over the arbitrary procedures of the Syariah courts and reinforces the widespread belief that Islam discriminates against women. The judge noted that the punishment was meant “to educate and make offenders realize their mistakes and return to the right path.” A similar rationale of setting an example to the larger public was cited in this case during the sentencing. It is reasonable to conclude that women voluntarily submit to caning because they are shamed into submission.

“The only lessons this sentence will send are that it is okay to punish people for being different, to cane adult women for loving each other, to criminalise something that harms nobody, or for the State to tell adults what we can do with our own body. The lessons it will send to the LGBT community is that we don’t belong, we are criminals, we should hide and pretend. But some of us are tired of hiding and pretending. We are not criminals. We are your family members, we are Malaysians, and we belong here as much as the rest, just trying to get by, contribute where we can, find some happiness when we can. I wish Malaysia would stop teaching lessons of hate and division. We should teach lessons of love, respect and equality instead,” states Pang Khee Teik, LGBT rights advocate and co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka.

Fulfill the commitment of change towards human rights for all

In a memorandum to the Prime Minister and Attorney General on this case, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) urges the government “to review whipping as a form of punishment as it violates international human rights principles which regard whipping and other forms of corporal punishment as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” JAG further notes that “the LGBT are a convenient target to ramp up the Islamic conservative sentiments,” and calls for the new government to “show the political will and courage to once and for all deal with the implications of such intrusive moral policing laws.”

The 2018 COMANGO report endorsed by 52 Malaysian NGOs calls for the government to “eliminate all forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the criminal justice system including the practice of whipping and caning,” and to ratify and accede to the UNCAT as part of this commitment.

Professor Gurdial Singh from the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM) also affirms this in a letter to the new Foreign Minister. “Given this initiative,” he said, “it is appropriate and timely that the government announces an immediate moratorium on all forms of caning whether related to Penal Code or Syariah Criminal Offences.” He added that the moratorium on caning will indicate an assured commitment and a necessary first step towards preventing any form of torture by the state.

This resonates with Pakatan Harapan’s commitment in its manifesto “to make our human rights record respected by the world” (Promise 26), as well as with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed’s Independence Day speech guaranteeing “justice for all the people, irrespective of race or religion” and promising “Malaysia will remain strong and progressive whatever the differences, contradictions and suspicions that may arise.”

Malaysia Baru is meaningless without real transformation. This requires courage and commitment by all of us, including those in power. We all have a role to play when a segment of society is being treated unfairly. It is incumbent upon our elected leaders to lead the way in ensuring that the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution guarantee protection for all Malaysians. This in itself should be all the protection we need. Instead, we find ourselves wondering about the well-being of two young and anxious women.

“We should not need to justify our human rights. The two women likely did not have access to reliable and good counsel for their defence. That alone is a travesty of justice no matter the moral ‘rationale’ for the criminalisation of personal sins under Syariah. We have witnessed the denial of access to justice for many others as well. It is time ‘New Malaysia’ stops such injustices if we are indeed in an era of hope,” states Angela M. Kuga Thas, co-founder of KRYSS.

We are people first, worthy of dignity and respect. It is time our communities and our country take a step forward and affirm that ‘New Malaysia’ means all of us, without exception.

Statement by

LGBT groups and individuals in Malaysia

2 Sept 2018

Artikel: hentikan kecaman terhadap individu LGBTIQ

(Artikel ini berdasarkan kenyataan yang diterbitkan oleh justice for Sisters pada 19 Julai 2018)

Trend kecaman dan ucapan berunsur kebencian, keganasan dan prejudis terhadap individu-individu lesbian, gay, biseksual, transgender, interseks dan queer (LGBTIQ) serta mereka yang dianggap sebagai penyokong individu LGBTIQ di media sosial semakin kritikal.

Dalam beberapa minggu ini semakin banyak ucapan berunsur kebencian, keganasan dan prejudis, termasuklah kempen boikot, ancaman bunuh dan ugutan fizikal terhadap individu LGBTIQ dikongsi serta ditularkan di media sosial. Terdapat juga tindakan orang ramai yang melaporkan individu LGBTIQ atau mereka yang dikaitkan dengan individu LGBTIQ kepada pihak penguatkuasa, ancaman yang diajukan kepada mereka, penggunaan naratif agama untuk mengecam individu LGBTIQ.

Ucapan-ucapan dan mesej berunsur kebencian sedemikian memberi kesan negatif yang mendalam terhadap emosi, kesejahteraan, keselamatan dan psikologi individu LGBTIQ, tetapi juga mereka-mereka lain yang terdedah kepada mesej berunsur kebencian dan keganasan sebegini.

Kecaman dan ucapan sedemikian secara langsung meningkatkan risiko keganasan, menimbulkan rasa tidak selamat dan mengiyakan diskriminasi terhadap individu-individu LGBTIQ. Peningkatan risiko terhadap keselamatan boleh berlaku dalam pelbagai bentuk termasuklah keganasan yang wujud daripada kebencian terhadap orientasi seksual dan identiti gender, cemuhan atau kejian secara lisan, dan percubaan untuk “membetulkan”  individu LGBTIQ.

Individu-individu LGBTIQ sememangnya satu kelompok yang dipinggirkan dan mengalami pelbagai bentuk diskriminasi, termasuklah dari segi pekerjaaan, pendidikan, perumahan, dan sebagainya. Hasutan kebencian dan ugutan keganasan terhadap individu LGBTIQ di media sosial hanya akan menggalakkan diskriminasi dan memburukkan lagi keadaan bagi individu LGBTIQ di Malaysia.

Kos prejudis dan diskriminasi dalam masyarakat

Retorik untuk “memulihkan” atau “membawa golongan LGBTIQ ke pangkal jalan” dari pihak kerajaan mahupun bukan kerajaan juga menambah kepada kemudaratan dan diskriminasi terhadap individu LGBTIQ. Pendekatan “memulihkan” orientasi seksual dan identiti gender ditolak oleh badan-badan perubatan antarabangsa. Malah, beberapa negara, termasuklah Malta dan Kanada telah mengharamkan pendekatan “pemulihan dan pembetulan”” sama ada dari segi perubatan mahupun spiritual boleh membawa kemudaratan besar yang berpanjangan. Kemudaratan ini termasuk kemurungan, pengasingan diri, rasa hendak membunuh diri, percubaan membunuh diri dan dalam kes yang lebih berat, bunuh diri boleh berlaku.

Pendekatan “pemulihan dan pembetulan” ini juga telah dikategorikan oleh Pertubuhan Bangsa Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) sebagai satu bentuk penyeksaan kerana pendekatan ini dianggap zalim dengan kesan yang buruk dan langsung tidak efektif.

Semua bentuk diskriminasi ini mempunyai kos yang bukan sahaja ditanggung oleh individu LGBTIQ, tetapi juga oleh kerajaan dan negara. Antara kesan diskriminasi terhadap individu LGBTIQ boleh dilihat melalui kadar kemiskinan yang dihadapi oleh komuniti LGBTIQ; risiko dan beban kesihatan yang tinggi; “brain drain” berpunca dari migrasi individu LGBTIQ ke negara lain oleh sebab diskriminasi dan kekurangan peluang.

Pencerahan dalam Malaysia Baharu

Pencerahan yang sebetulnya tentang Islam, gender dan seksualiti amat kritikal supaya kita tidak menjadi satu kelompok masyarakat yang jumud. Islam mahupun agama-agama lain mengunjurkan keadilan dan pembebasan manusia daripada penindasan, kezaliman dan kejahilan. Oleh itu, perlunya ruang untuk berdialog secara sivil dan tenang dengan tujuan untuk mendengar dan memahami, bukan untuk menghukum atau berceramah.

Kekurangan naratif positif berkenaan ‘LGBTIQ’ oleh individu LGBTIQ sendiri, kekurangan pemahaman berkenaan individu LGBTIQ berdasarkan pengalaman hidup LGBTIQ dan fakta-fakta, antaranya menjurus kepada sikap prejudis dan diskriminasi terhadap individu LGBTIQ. Individu LGBTIQ adalah seperti manusia lain yang mempunyai perasaan, kebolehan, aspirasi dan sebagainya. Individu LGBTIQ juga mempunyai ibu bapa, keluarga dan sahabat handai yang menyayangi, menghormati dan menyokong mereka. Kewujudan individu LGBTIQ adalah sebahagian daripada kepelbagaian alam.

Kecaman dan ugutan terhadap individu LGBTIQ akhir-akhir ini juga terbit dari ‘momokan moral’ pihak segelintir. Ianya adalah sisa-sisa  dan taktik-taktik daripada pentadbiran Kerajaan Barisan Nasional sebelum ini yang acap memutarkan dan mempolitikkan  isu-isu berkenaan LGBTIQ bagi kelangsungan politik benci dan kepentingan mereka.

Harus diingatkan, individu LGBTIQ tidak mencabul hak mana-mana pihak. Setiap manusia mempunyai hak untuk hidup bermartabat dan bebas dari ancaman. Kerajaan seharusnya memikul tanggungjawab untuk memastikan setiap rakyat dan kelompok masyarakat dilindungi seperti yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Malaysia Baharu perlu meninggalkan politik dan retorik ekstremisme haluan kanan bagi membentuk satu masyarakat yang lebih inklusif. Kerajaan hari ini perlu sedar bahawa sifat anti-LGBT, homofobik dan transfobik tidak ada bezanya dengan kebencian dan prejudis berdasarkan agama, kumpulan etnik, gender dan sebagainya. Sifat benci dan prejudis melulu tidak lagi ada ruang di Malaysia. Politik kebencian hanya akan membawa kepincangan dan keburukan pada masyarakat.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017

Remembering the violence, hate crime and murder of trans people and gender diverse persons based on gender identity and gender expression

On 20th November, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) we remember all the trans people and gender diverse people who have been subjected to murder and violence based on gender identity and gender expression. On TDOR, we remember and honour their lives, and we continue to seek justice and end violence against trans and gender diverse people based on gender identity and gender expression.

According to updates by the Transgender Europe (TGEU), 325 cases of murder of trans and gender diverse persons were reported between October 2016 and September 2017. This year’s update shows an increase of 30 cases from last year.

In total between January 2008 and September 2017, a total of 2,609 trans and gender diverse people were reported killed in 71 countries. Out of the total reported cases, 231 reported cases come from Asia.

In Malaysia, 3 cases of murder of trans women were reported in 2017. Two out of the three cases were reported in the media, and the trans women were subjected to misgendering or the use of wrong gender pronouns, terms or labels, description and name in the media. In addition, the outcomes of the investigation of these cases have yet to be seen.

February 2017 – Sameera Krishnan was brutally attacked, shot, tortured, mutilated and found dead in Pahang. Her case was reportedly investigated by the police. However, outcomes of the case are unknown.

May 2017 – An unnamed trans woman was found dead in her bedroom with both wrists bound with wirehair dryers and cable mobile phone charger in Kuala Lumpur. The body was found approximately 4 days after death due to the smell from decay.

August 2017 – A 22-year-old trans woman was reportedly murdered in Kuala Lumpur. This case did not appear in the media.

We also remember and highlight the case of a Thai trans woman in Penang in May 2017. The woman who is also a sex worker, sustained severe injuries and was almost killed due to multiple stabbing with a knife by a client over allegedly expensive rates.

Between 2007 and 2016, at least 10 cases of murder have been reported in the media. In these 10 cases, the trans women were subjected to brutal violence, 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, etc.

Its important to note that these are reported cases of murder, hate crime and violence. There are many cases of hate crime, murder and violence that go unreported (due to fear of reprisal or further violence, lack of trust in law enforcement agencies to investigate cases, lack of serious and meaningful investigation of cases, lack of friendly and inclusive reporting mechanism, among others), unnoticed (due to misgendering in the media among others) and silenced (due to shame by family members, fear of media sensationalization, among others).

The violence experienced by trans and gender diverse people do not happen in a vacuum, and it correlates with the broader discriminatory laws, policies, misinformation regarding gender identity and trans people, lack of positive and affirming representation in the media among many other factors. Criminalization of trans people increases barriers for trans people to access justice and continues to marginalize trans people. In addition, the lack of inclusive, sensitive and friendly redress mechanisms further limit access to justice for trans and gender diverse persons.

We believe that the marginalization and violence against trans and gender diverse persons must end, and we can end it together. We call everyone to light a candle for all trans and gender diverse people have been subjected to murder and hate crime this 20th November.


For more information regarding TDOR, please visit




Name list of trans and gender diverse people who have been subjected to murder

Click to access TvT_TMM_TDoR2017_Namelist_EN.pdf

Media kit for journalist


For updates in Malaysia, please visit justiceforsisters.wordpress.com



Reported murder of trans people in Malaysia

In conjunction with trans awareness month and TDOR this November 2017 Justice for Sisters in collaboration with the G-Blog bring you articles and stories by trans people

Debunking harmful myths & misinformation regarding LGBTIQ persons in Malaysia

The two consecutive anti-LGBT events by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) in Universiti Malaya and the Selangor State Islamic Department in Shah Alam on October 13th and 14th respectively are a genuine cause for alarm. From their biased content to the use of public funds, and the support by a public education institution along with the Selangor state government, the events reflect a slew of problems. Above all, the myths, assumptions, bias and misinformation shared during the events have a harmful impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons (LGBTIQ) persons and society.

Disseminating false and harmful information that stereotypes and misrepresents the realities of LGBT persons is a form of discrimination and violence. The event in UM by JAKIM stereotyped and sexualized experiences of LGBTQ persons. The forum featured two repented or former LGBT persons, focused mostly on their sexual experiences, drug use, and personal choices. Both events used the narrative that LGBT persons are lost and confused, hooked on drugs, alcohol and sex, and are morally bankrupt, amongst others. Some of the experiences portrayed had no connection to sexual orientation and gender identity. Meanwhile, some experiences were directly and clearly a result of the lack of acceptance from family members and multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, these links were not discussed.

The assumptions and stereotypes that depict LGBT persons as not religious, spiritual and/or morally bankrupt are completely untrue. The reality is there are many LGBT persons who actively practice and deeply believe in their religion and spirituality. LGBT persons have the same right to religion and spirituality as cisgender heterosexual people. In fact, it is the rejection and ex-communication by religious institutions (not limited to state Islamic departments) that cause deep conflicts within LGBT persons and sometimes lead to self-harm.

The information shared during the events lacked structural and systemic analysis of the discrimination experienced by LGBT persons. It placed the blame and responsibility solely on the individual, as opposed to the social, cultural, economic and political context the person is in. The discrimination, violence, exclusion and marginalization of LGBT persons do not exist in a vacuum. At the root of this is the continued refusal to recognise the lived experiences of LGBT persons, facts and evidence; discriminatory laws, policies and practices; barriers to access basic rights including education, employment, healthcare; amongst others. As a result, LGBT persons face increased health burden including stress, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideas; increased poverty; lack social safety nets; amongst others. The role of family members and friends are critical for LGBT persons, and has a life changing effect. Without affirmation and support from family members and/or friends, LGBT persons face increased challenges, including withdrawal of emotional and financial support, isolation, domestic violence, and conversion therapy, amongst others.

The session in Shah Alam, part of a religious talk series by the Selangor State Islamic Department, featured a pantomime performance by school children. It is extremely disconcerting that school children are being brainwashed and used to promote anti-LGBT messages. Indoctrinating children with feelings of prejudice and hate is dangerous. If we have learned anything from the recent cases of deaths in schools, bullying on the grounds of gender expression can be deadly. In June 2017, Nhaveen, a young person from Penang died as a result of physical assault by some former schoolmates. Underlying the violence, amongst others, was the on-going bullying Nhaveen experienced based on gender expression, later revealed by Nhaveen’s friends, family members and teachers.

The organizers stressed that LGBT persons should not be discriminated, teased and bullied, and that family members should love their LGBT children. In line with JAKIM’s “soft approach”, attendees were advised to embrace LGBT persons, but advise and encourage them to suppress themselves to prevent them from ‘terjebak dalam LGBT’ (getting sucked into LGBT). What JAKIM, the Islamic state departments, and organizers fail to recognize is that suppression of our identities and who we are is a form of discrimination, violence and torture. Forcing people to confine themselves to the binary constructs of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and heterosexual norms is harmful, unrealistic and more importantly amounts to the erasure of our identities and diversity. This forced suppression results in internalized oppression, self-harm, mental health issues, and forced marriages among other things, that have a destructive and systemic impact on society in general.

Finally, the talk in UM included screenshots of social media accounts of actual or perceived LGBT persons in the presentation session. This raises concerns of outing, or non-consensual disclosure of sexual orientation and gender identity, privacy, and violence towards LGBT persons.


Myth #1. Five factors that make one LGBT

JAKIM claims that there are 5 factors that make one LGBT: parenting, traumatic events (sexual violence), pornography, bullying, and environmental factors. These are myths that have in fact been debunked.                        

Historical and anthropological evidence show that sexual and gender diversity have always existed across the world. This includes hijra in Indiacalabai, calalai and bissu in Indonesiaasog/bayugin in the Philippinesmukhannathun in Makkah and MedinaFa’afafine in Samoa and New Zealand; Māhū in Hawai’I; two-spirit in North America, and more. Michael Peletz in his book Gender Pluralism in South East Asia documents the existence of sida-sida,[1] gender-diverse identities similar to present-day transgender persons, in the palaces of Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Johor, and other parts of the Peninsula Malaya and parts of Indonesia. In Borneo, there are accounts of identities such as manang balibasir, and balian[2] are described as people who were assigned male at birth, who embodied female identity and performed gender roles performed by cisgender women.

It cannot be stressed enough that diversity of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and sex characteristics are normal occurrences in life. Just like cisgender heterosexual persons, LGBT and people of other identities also exist. There is no evidence to support the claim that childhood trauma, experiences of abuse in childhood, parenting skills, absent fathers and domineering mothers or tension in the family are factors that cause one to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or anything other than cisgender heterosexual.

In 1975, the American Psychological Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), 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.”

While gender dysphoria[3] is in the current DSM 5, it has undergone major revisions to provide further clarification and guidance to healthcare providers as well as to remove stigma in relation to trans persons. This includes the replacement of “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria” in DSM 5, and clarification 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 gender dysphoria”

The gender dysphoria diagnosis also includes “a post-transition specifier for people who are living full-time as the desired gender (with or without legal sanction of the gender change). This ensures treatment access for individuals who continue to undergo hormone therapy, related surgery, or psychotherapy or counseling to support their gender transition.” At the same time, it is important to note that people are able to determine their own gender identity without a diagnosis by healthcare providers. The diagnosis of gender dysphoria facilitates access to hormone replacement therapy and other trans specific healthcare services. In many countries, including Malta and India, medical evidence, including diagnosis by mental health professional of gender identity is not required in order to change the details in legal documents. The changes are made based on self-determined gender identity, as individuals are capable of recognizing and identifying their own gender identity based on their lived experiences.

Reality of sexual violence experienced by LGBTIQ persons

LGBT persons experience increased risks of sexual violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristic. In some cases, LGBT persons are sexually assaulted as a form of correction, to exercise power over and amongst others. In many cases, LGBT persons’ first sexual experiences are sexual violence. In many situations, LGBT persons across age groups are not able to share their experiences or report cases of sexual violence because of victim-blaming, self blame and rationalization, lack of friendly and affirming services, lack of information, amongst others. This creates an environment that disempowers and silences LGBT persons and emboldens perpetrators.

It extremely problematic to distort experiences of sexual violence; not only does it effectively silence LGBT persons from sharing their experiences but also increases barriers for LGBT persons in seeking services and working through trauma. We emphasize that the experience of sexual violence do not make one LGBT. However, LGBT persons experience increased vulnerabilities of sexual violence and face increased barriers to report cases of violence.

The issues that need to be addressed, amongst others are agency of people across age and diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics to share or report experiences of sexual violence; comprehensive and inclusive sex education of diverse identities; friendly services for LGBT persons of all ages to report sexual violence.

Myth #2. LGBT persons can be corrected or return to the ‘right path’

A central theme in JAKIM’s anti-LGBT messaging and efforts is that sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed through rehabilitation/ conversion therapy and the suppression of sexual orientation and gender identity. JAKIM categorises LGBT persons who are Muslim into 3 groups: those who have repented, those who are repenting, and those who are firm in their LGBT identities. The two former sub-groups should be assisted, guided and not discriminated. Meanwhile, the third group must be reasoned with rational arguments.

Gender, sex characteristics and sexual orientations are not binary instead they are a spectrum. All persons should have access to information regarding gender and sexuality, and feel safe to explore, understand and express their gender and sexuality. While we respect the choices of people who choose to change their sexual orientation and gender identity, the notion of “former” LGBT persons and what compels people to change needs to be further analyzed.

The Mukhayyam programme, a rehabilitation programme by JAKIM for LGBT persons claims to be a strategy to reduce prevalence of HIV, among other things. While there is an appearance of change by the participants of the programme, the Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2016 notes that there is no evidence to prove the efficacy of this programme.

Mukhayyam is a special program aimed at creating awareness on principles of Islamic teaching, self enhancement apart from HIV awareness. Targeting key populations, enrolment to this program is voluntary. Many who attended this program have reported change in behaviour to less risky or risk free but there has been no data to support this claim. (page 17, Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2016)

Not only is rehabilitation and corrective therapy ineffective, but it also creates more harm. All major national mental health organizations have rejected and expressed concerns regarding therapies that aims to correct or change gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, as there is a lack of evidence that support the efficacy of these efforts or therapies.

In 2009, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a report concluding that the risks of conversion therapy practices include: depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviours, a feeling of being dehumanised and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources.

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.’ In the same year, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a former advocate of conversion therapy, issued a public apology, and retracted his support for conversion therapy.

In the context of Malaysia, the UN Special Rapporteur on health, during his visit to Malaysia in November 2014, expressed concern 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.”

It is extremely concerning that public health policies are being made based on ineffective and non-evidence based approaches. It is misguided and naïve to assume that prevalence of HIV will decline via rehabilitation of LGBT persons, that is making LGBT persons suppress their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Myth #3. LGBT persons are the leading cause of HIV

The claim that LGBT persons are the leading cause of HIV is untrue, counterproductive and simply irresponsible. Such statements, especially in an environment where LGBT people are already stigmatized, risk increasing stigma, discrimination, stereotype and misinformation regarding HIV and LGBT persons, and could lead to rollback of rights of people living with HIV. For example, in 2017, a local college in Selangor explicitly stated in its admission criteria that admission would be revoked or rejected for applicants who are HIV positive or experience mental health issues.

The Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2016 reports a shift in trend of prevalence from transmission through unsafe injecting practices to transmission via sexual intercourse. Another concerning pattern that was observed is in relation to age. The report notes that the bulk of infection involves young people between ages of 20 and 39 years old. A media release by the Malaysian AIDS Council in October 2017 notes:

“… Malaysia is facing a sexual health crisis. Of the reported 3,397 new HIV infections last year, 84 per cent or 2,864 were sexually transmitted – 1,553 homo/bisexual (46 per cent) and 1,311 heterosexual transmissions (38 per cent) respectively. The rise in sexually transmitted HIV has come to characterise the national AIDS epidemic since 2010 when, for the first time, new HIV infections attributed to sexual transmission superseded unsafe drug injecting practices and other modes of transmission.”

LGBT persons are not inherently at risk of HIV. It is crucial to examine the correlation between the rise in prevalence of HIV among gay men and transgender women and the rise of anti-LGBT activities, criminalization, legal, socio-political and economic barriers and discrimination faced by LGBT population in general. Evidence shows that LGBT persons face increased vulnerability and health risks, including HIV, STI, mental health issues amongst others as a result of the multiple forms of discrimination that LGBT persons experience. Thus, the biggest contributor to HIV is stigma and discrimination, not LGBT persons.

A report by the United Nations Country Team in 2014, “The Review and Consultation on the Policy and Legal Environments Related to HIV Services in Malaysia” provides an overview of the HIV epidemic in Malaysia. Notably, the removal of criminal laws and discriminatory practices being critical in transforming the global AIDS response:

“In Malaysia, the HIV epidemic continues to be concentrated among key populations, who often represent highly ostracized and stigmatized segments within all societies. Members of these communities are not only rejected socially, but further marginalized through legal frameworks that cast them as criminals. Criminal laws and discriminatory practices based on moral judgment, superstition, ancient beliefs, fear and misinformation, punish instead of protect. They drive at-risk communities underground, preventing them from accessing lifesaving treatment and prevention information and services, heightening their risk for HIV.

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law (2010-2012), a high-level initiative launched in 2010 by UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, examined how law and practices can transform the global AIDS response. The Commission’s findings and recommendations reveal that evidence-based laws and practices firmly grounded in human rights are powerful instruments for challenging discrimination, promoting public health, and protecting human rights. The benefits are felt beyond HIV responses to encompass health and development outcomes more broadly.

Furthermore, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Resolutions 66/10 and 67/9 recommended that punitive laws and policies targeting key populations be abolished to reduce levels of social stigma, discrimination, violence and broader human rights violations.”


Assigned sex at birth – identity assigned based on genitals, typically, female, male, etc. however, sex or sex characteristics refer to a combination of chromosomes, internal and external sexual organs, secondary sex characteristics, and hormones.

Gender identity – personal sense of identification (typically, girl, boy, gender fluid or queer etc.) based on how one feels and sees themselves. Typically, gender identity is also assigned at birth according to genital based on assumption. However, gender identity and sex are two separate things, and do not have be consistent, aligned or match.

Cisgender – a person whose sex assigned at birth ‘match’ their gender identity

Transgender – a person whose sex assigned at birth ‘does not match’ their gender identity

Trans woman – a transgender person whose gender identity is a girl/woman

Trans man – a transgender person whose gender identity is a boy/man

Gender queer – a person identifies as neither girl/woman or boy/man, non-binary, combination of gender categories or other forms of gender identity

See gender bear for more information

[1] Sida-sida resided in the inner chambers of the palace, and were ‘entrusted with the sacred regalia and the preservation of the ruler’s special powers’. Further references to sida-sida can be found in the Hikayat Melayu, such as Hikayat Amer Hamzah. Professor Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, a Malaysian anthropologist, also provides a first-hand account of seeing sida-sida in a palace as a child, describing them as people who were assigned male at birth, who dressed and performed gender roles of women.

[2] Basir, in Gender Pluralism in South East Asia, are described as someone who “dresses like a woman in private life as well, and parts their hair in the middle of their forehead just like a (cisgender) woman.” Manang bali, basir and balian were also ritual specialists, shamans and healers, among others.

[3] Gender dysphoria is a diagnosis for people whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify, including but not limited to transgender persons.

Memahami seks dan gender: perbezaan, andaian dan keganasan.

Memahami seks dan gender adalah penting dalam menghentikan keganasan serta peminggiran individu transgender.

Bukti-bukti kukuh mengesahkan bahawa identiti gender adalah semula jadi kepada semua orang, dan seks/jantina serta gender adalah dua kategori berasingan yang dipunyai oleh semua manusia. Seks mahupun gender bukanlah binari, bermakna tidak terdiri daripada hanya dua identiti.

Seks – gabungan kromosom, organ-organ reproduktif seksual luaran dan dalaman, hormon, serta ciri-ciri seks sekunder – adalah sebuah spektrum, dan ianya tidak menentukan identiti gender kita. Anggapan umum adalah bahawa seks hanya terdiri daripada lelaki iaitu kromosom (XX) atau perempuan (XY). Walau bagaimanapun, terdapat juga individu yang mempunyai pelbagai jenis kromosom (XXX, XO, XXY, dan lain-lain), hormon, dan ciri-ciri fizikal di luar binari lelaki /perempuan, yang dikenali sebagai interseks atau khunsa. Individu dengan ciri-ciri interseks menghadapi cabaran yang unik akibat tekanan untuk menepati lelaki/perempuan binari, termasuk pembedahan alat kelamin tanpa persetujuan mereka, isu-isu imej badan, dan sekatan untuk bersaing dalam acara sukan.

Identiti jantina pula merujuk kepada perasaan peribadi kita dan cara kita rasa, lihat, dan mengenalpasti diri kita, sama ada sebagai lelaki atau perempuan, kedua-duanya, tidak kedua-duanya atau kombinasi mana-mana kategori.

Pada tahun 2015, penyelidikan yang diketuai oleh penyelidik otak Georg S. Kanz, Klinik Universiti bagi Psikiatri dan Psikoterapi Universiti Perubatan Vienna menunjukkan bahawa identiti jantina adalah sangat peribadi bagi setiap manusia, digambarkan dan boleh disahkan dalam pautan silang di kawasan otak. Laporan itu menyatakan, “Walaupun jantina biologi biasanya dimanifestasikan dalam penampilan fizikal, identiti jantina individu tidak segera dapat dicerap dan penubuhan yang utama dalam jiwa seorang manusia.”

Apabila kanak-kanak dilahirkan, mereka diberikan gender berdasarkan alat kelamin mereka. Sebagai contoh, seorang kanak-kanak yang mempunyai faraj ketika lahir diberikan jantina/gender sebagai perempuan, dan kemudiannya dijangka untuk melaksanakan peranan gender khusus untuk identiti tersebut seperti memasak, mengemas, dan akur, dan sebagainya. Manakala mereka yang ditentukan sebagai anak lelaki ketika lahir dijangka menjadi kuat, agresif, bersifat sebagai pelindung bagi yang lain dan sebagainya. Walau bagaimanapun, penentuan dan andaian sebegini tidak selalunya tepat, kerana alat kelamin tidak menentukan gender seseorang. Seks dan gender adalah dua kategori yang berbeza,dan juga ditentukan oleh komponen yang berbeza dalam badan kita.

Orang yang mempunyai pengalaman hidupnya yang sepadan dengan seks dan gender yang diberikan semasa lahir, mereka dikenali sebagai cisgender, manakala orang yang mempunyai  pengalaman hidup tidak sepadan dengan seks dan gender mereka ketika lahir dikenali sebagai transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid dan lain-lain.

Satu kajian yang dijalankan pada bulan Januari 2015 dengan 32 kanak-kanak transgender berumur antara lima hingga dua belas, yang diketuai oleh ahli sains psikologi Kristina Olson dari Universiti Washington, mendapati bahawa “identiti gender kanak-kanak ini amat tepat dan keputusan yang dihasilkan bukan daripada kekeliruan tentang identiti gender atau berpura-pura”. Para penyelidik menyatakan bahawa “keputusan kami menyokong tanggapan bahawa kanak-kanak transgender tersebut adalah tidak keliru, tertangguh, menunjukkan respon di luar norma gender atau gender a-typical response, berpura-pura, ataupun disebaliknya. Mereka sebaliknya menunjukkan respon sepenuhnya secara biasa dan dijangka untuk kanak-kanak dengan identiti gender mereka tersebut”.

Para penyelidik mendapati respon daripada kanak-kanak transgender tidak dapat dibezakan daripada kanak-kanak cisgender. Data daripada kanak-kanak perempuan transgender menunjukkan corak yang sama dengan data dari kanak-kanak perempuan cisgender, dan data dari kanak-kanak lelaki transgender menunjukkan corak yang sama dengan data dari kanak-kanak lelaki cisgender. Sebagai contoh, kanak-kanak perempuan transgender lebih suka berkawan dengan kanak-kanak perempuan lain dan mereka cenderung dan lebih suka dengan mainan dan makanan yang gadis-gadis lain suka, sama seperti kanak-kanak perempuan cisgender.

Memahami dysphoria gender.       

Manual Diagnostik Statistik (DSM) 5 menjelaskan gender dysphoria sebagai sesuatu pengalaman yang dialami oleh individu yang mendapati pengalama hidup mereka berbeza dengan gender yang diberikan ketika lahir. DSM-5 juga memberikan cadangan untuk mengurangkan tekanan dan kebimbangan disebabkan oleh ketidakupayaan untuk menyatakan identiti gender sahih mereka.

DSM-5 juga menekankan bahawa dysphoria gender adalah bukan satu mental heath disorder. Gender identity disorder (GID) telah digantikan dengan dysphoria gender dalam DSM terkini untuk mengelakkan stigma dan memastikan akses kepada penjagaan serta sokongan bagi individu yang mendapati pengalaman hidup mereka berbeza daripada gender yang diberikan ketika lahir berdasarkan alat kelamin mereka.

Kepelbagaian gender dalam sejarah manusia                                                                       

Transgender dan individu daripada pelbagai gender, telah dan sentiasa wujud sepanjang sejarah manusia. Michael Peletz di dalam bukunya bertajuk ‘Pluralisme Gender di Asia Tenggara’ mendokumenkan kewujudan sida-sida, yang sama dengan identiti transgender hari ini seperti di istana Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Johor, dan bahagian-bahagian lain di Malaya dan kawasan di Indonesia. Sida-sida tinggal di kamar dalaman istana, dan telah diamanahkan dengan urusan adat istiadat istana serta pemeliharaan kuasa yang khas pemerintah.

Rujukan lanjut kepada sida-sida boleh didapati dalam Hikayat Melayu, seperti Hikayat Amer Hamzah. Profesor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, seorang ahli antropologi Malaysia yang pernah melihat sida-sida di istana semasa beliau seorang kanak-kanak, menggambarkan mereka sebagai diberikan identiti lelaki ketika lahir, yang berpakaian dan berperanan perempuan.

Di Borneo, terdapat beberapa identiti seperti manang bali, basir dan balian, yang digambarkan sebagai individu-individu yang telah diberikan gender lelaki ketika lahir, yang termaktub identiti perempuan serta melaksanakan peranan gender yang dilakukan oleh wanita cisgender. Basir, dalam Gender Pluralism in South East Asia, pula digambarkan sebagai seseorang yang “pakaian seperti seorang wanita dan juga dalam kehidupan peribadinya, membahagikan rambut mereka di tengah-tengah dahi mereka sama seperti seorang wanita (cisgender).” Manang bali, basir dan balian juga pakar ritual, dukun dan bomoh, dan sebagainya.

Identiti yang sama dilihat di seluruh dunia – Hijrah di India; calabai, calalai dan bissu di Indonesia; asog/bayugin di Filipina; Mukhannathun di Mekah dan Madinah; Fa’afafine di Samoa dan New Zealand; Māhū di Hawai’I; two-spirit di Amerika Utara, dan banyak lagi.

Perubahan sikap.                                                                         

Dengan pencerahan and perkembangan dalam pemahaman gender, banyak negara di Amerika Latin, Asia Selatan, Eropah, Amerika Utara dan lain-lain telah memperkenalkan undang-undang pengiktirafan gender yang membolehkan individu transgender menukar nama dan penanda gender (gender marker) dalam dokumen undang-undang tanpa apa-apa intervensi perubatan atau pembedahan. Proses ini dijangka”cepat, telus dan boleh diakses”, berdasarkan penentuan dan keazaman sendiri. Sebagai contoh, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act in Malta di Malta, memerlukan perisytiharan yang mudah berdasarkan prosedur penentuan sendiri oleh seseorang sebelum notari, dan melarang permintaan untuk mendapatkan maklumat perubatan untuk proses tersebut. Keseluruhan proses tidak melebihi 30 hari.

Realiti di Malaysia.                                                                                        

Diskriminasi dan keganasan terhadap golongan transgender adalah satu fenomena yang bermula pada tahun 80-an. Sebelum waktu itu, individu transgender juga turut menikmati beberapa hak, termasuklah penukaran nama dan identiti gender mereka di dalam dokumen rasmi, seperti kad pengenalan berdasarkan status pembedahan.

Semua 14 negeri di Malaysia mempunyai undang-undang yang menjenayahkan wanita transgender berdasarkan identiti gender dan ekspresi gender, manakala 3 negeri mempunyai undang-undang yang melarang orang perempuan yang berlagak sebagai lelaki atau memakai pakaian lelaki di tempat awam untuk tujuan tidak bermoral. Undang-undang ini telah diperkenalkan antara tahun 1985 dan 2012.

Sebelum fatwa itu dilaksanakan dalam tahun 1983, yang mana melarang pembedahan peneguhan gender untuk golongan trans, pembedahan peneguhan gender ada disediakan oleh doktor tempatan di Hospital Universiti. Selepas itu, golongan transgender tidak lagi boleh menukar nama mereka dan penanda gender dalam dokumen undang-undang mereka. Undang-undang dan fatwa diperkenalkan pada tahun 80-an telah menyebabkan akses kepada hak asasi manusia, termasuklah pendidikan, pekerjaan, kesihatan dan perumahan, lebih bertambah merosot lagi, yang sekaligus meminggirkan komuniti transgender.

Ini adalah masanya untuk orang ramai memahami bahawa golongan trans adalah normal, tidak berpura-pura,’cross-dressing’, melalui satu-satu fasa, atau tidak pasti identiti gender mereka. Individu transgender hanyalah menyatakan dan mengekspresikan diri mereka, seperti individu cisgender.

Kekurangan pemahaman seks dan gender menyebabkan stigma, diskriminasi, keganasan dan halangan bagi individu untuk mengekspresikan diri mereka serta menjadi diri mereka yang sebenar. Oleh itu, adalah sangat penting bagi orang ramai untuk mendidik diri mereka sendiri dan antara satu sama lain tentang konsep asas seks serta gender yang berpandukan pengalaman hidup seseorang dan pendekatan berasaskan bukti.


Understanding sex and gender: distinctions, assumptions and violence

Understanding sex and gender is imperative in ending violence and marginalization of transgender persons

Overwhelming evidence affirms that gender identity is an innate part of our being, and sex and gender are two separate categories that all human beings have. Neither sex nor gender are binary, meaning consisting of only two identities.

Sex – a combination of our chromosomes, external and internal sexual reproductive organs, hormones, and secondary sexual characteristics – is a spectrum, and does not determine our gender identity. The common misconception is that sex only consists of female (XY) or male (XX) chromosomes. However, there are also people with diverse types of chromosomes (XXX, XO, XXY, etc.), hormones, and physical characteristics outside of the male/female binary, who are known as intersex. Persons with intersex characteristics face unique challenges to fit into the male/female binary, including genital mutilation without consent, body image issues, and restrictions to compete in sporting events, among others.

Gender identity, on the other hand, is our personal sense of how we feel, see, and identify as a boy/man, girl/woman, both, neither, or combination.

In 2015, research led by brain researcher Georg S. Kanz of the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Medical University of Vienna demonstrated that the very personal gender identity of every human being is reflected and verifiable in the cross-links between brain regions. The report stated, “While the biological gender is usually manifested in the physical appearance, the individual gender identity is not immediately discernible and primarily established in the psyche of a human being.”

When a child is born, she/he/zie[1] is assigned a category based on their genitals. For example, a child with a vagina is assigned female/girl at birth, and subsequently expected to perform gender roles specific to that identity such as cooking, cleaning, and being submissive, among others; while those assigned male/boy at birth are expected to be strong, aggressive, protective and so on. However, these assignments and assumptions are not accurate all the time, as our genitals do not determine our gender. Sex and gender are two different categories, and determined by different components of our body.

People whose lived experiences match the sex and gender they were assigned at birth are known as cisgender, while people whose lived experiences do not match the sex and gender they were assigned at birth are known as transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid and others.

A study conducted in January 2015 of 32 transgender children aged between five and twelve, led by psychological scientist Kristina Olson of the University of Washington, found that “the gender identity of these children is deeply held and is not the result of confusion about gender identity or pretense.” The researchers noted that “our results support the notion that transgender children are not confused, delayed, showing gender-atypical responding, pretending, or oppositional – they instead show responses entirely typical and expected for children with their gender identity.”

The researchers found responses from transgender children were indistinguishable from those from cisgender children. The data from transgender girls showed the same pattern as the data from cisgender girls and the data from transgender boys showed the same pattern as the data from cisgender boys. For instance, transgender girls preferred to be friends with other girls and they tended to prefer toys and foods that other girls liked, just like cisgender girls.

Understanding gender dysphoria

In addition, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) 5 explains gender dysphoria as something experienced by people whose gender assigned at birth differs from their lived experiences. The DSM-5 further provides recommendations to reduce stress and anxiety caused by inability to express their authentic gender identity.

The DSM-5 further rightly emphasizes that gender dysphoria is not a mental health disorder. Gender identity disorder (GID) was replaced with gender dysphoria in the latest DSM to avoid stigma and ensure access to care and support for people who do not identity with the gender assigned at birth based on their genitals.

Gender diversity throughout the history of humanity

Transgender and gender-diverse persons have always existed throughout the history of humanity. Michael Peletz in his book Gender Pluralism in South East Asia documents the existence of sida-sida, gender-diverse identities similar to present-day transgender persons, in the palaces of Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Johor, and other parts of the Peninsula Malaya and parts of Indonesia. Sida-sida resided in the inner chambers of the palace, and were ‘entrusted with the sacred regalia and the preservation of the ruler’s special powers’.

Further references to sida-sida can be found in the Hikayat Melayu, such as Hikayat Amer Hamzah. Professor Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, a Malaysian anthropologist, also provides a first-hand account of seeing sida-sida in a palace as a child, describing them as people who were assigned male at birth, who dressed and performed gender roles of women.

In Borneo, there are accounts of identities such as manang bali, basir, and balian are described as people who were assigned male at birth, who embodied female identity and performed gender roles performed by cisgender women. Basir, in Gender Pluralism in South East Asia, are described as someone who “dresses like a woman in private life as well, and parts their hair in the middle of their forehead just like a (cisgender) woman.” Manang bali, basir and balian were also ritual specialists, shamans and healers, among others.

Similar identities are seen through out the world – hijra in India; calabai, calalai and bissu in Indonesia; asog/bayugin in the Philippines; mukhannathun in Mecca and Medina; Fa’afafine in Samoa and New Zealand; Māhū in Hawai’I; two-spirit in North America, and more.

Changing attitudes

Given developments in the understanding of gender, many countries in Latin America, South Asia, Europe, North America and others have introduced gender recognition laws that allow transgender persons to change their name and gender markers in their legal documents without medical interventions or surgeries. The process is envisioned to be ”quick, transparent and accessible” gender recognition procedures, based on self-determination. The Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act in Malta, for example, requires a simple declaration based on a person’s self-determination procedure before a notary, and prohibits requests for medical information. The entire process does not exceed 30 days.

Reality in Malaysia

Discrimination and violence towards transgender persons is a phenomenon that began in the 80s. Prior to that time, transgender persons enjoyed some rights, including being able to change their name and gender identity in their legal documents, namely identification cards, based on operative status.

All 14 states in Malaysia have laws that criminalize transgender women based on gender identity and gender expression, while three states have laws that prohibit female persons who pose as men or wear men’s attire in a public place for immoral purposes. These laws were introduced between 1985 and 2012.

Prior to the fatwa in 1983, which prohibited gender affirmation surgeries for trans people, local doctors provided the surgeries in University Hospital. Consequently, transgender persons were no longer able to change their name and gender marker in their legal documents. The laws and fatwa introduced in the 80s further deteriorated access to fundamental human rights, including education, employment, healthcare and housing, and further marginalized the transgender community.

It is time for people to understand that trans persons are normal, and are not in any shape or form pretending, cross dressing, going though a phase, or uncertain of their gender identity. Transgender persons are merely expressing themselves, like cisgender persons.

The lack of understanding of sex and gender has caused stigma, discrimination, violence and barriers to people being their authentic selves. Thus, it is imperative for people to educate themselves and each other about the basic concepts of sex and gender guided by lived experiences of people and evidence-based approaches.

[1] Gender-neutral pronoun. Other gender-neutral pronouns include they/their

Brief media analysis – Media reports on the violent death of a young trans woman on 9 March 2016 in Subang Jaya, Malaysia.

Only 1 out of 25 reports gathered by Justice for Sisters regarding the death of the trans woman on 9th March recognized her authentic and self-determined gender identity, by using correct term to address her.

6 out the 25 articles were sourced from Bernama. Only one media outlet, Malaysiakini changed the gender identity in its article to reflect her authentic gender identity. However, they did not use correct gender pronouns.

Further, there was an obscene and disproportionate  attention on her clothing, body, and identity as opposed to details of the case. Kosmo in one of its article included an unverified photo of her before she had transitioned or presenting herself in typically known as men’s attire. The Malaysian Digest included a photo of a trans woman with pixelated breasts for illustrative purposes..

No Media outlet Title Date & time
1 Kosmo Lelaki berpakaian wanita ditemui mati 09/03/2016 1:29pm
Pondan mati ditolak dari kondo 9 march, 2016
2 Harian Metro Mati berpakaian wanita


9 Mac 2016, 2:43 PM
3 Malaysiandigest Male Cross-Dresser Killed After Being Thrown Off Apartment In Subang Jaya 9 Mac 2016, 3:19
4 The Star Cross-dresser found dead at Subang apartment 9 March 2016 | MYT 3:26 PM
5 The Malaysian insider Man in women’s clothes found dead at Subang Jaya 9 March 2016 4:00 PM
6 The Sun Daily Transvestite falls to death, Kenyan suspect arrested 9 March 2016 – 06:01pm
7 Astro Awani, Mayat ‘pondan’ dalam bungkusan dicampak dari tingkat tiga kondominium
09, 2016 18:32 MYT


Mayat lelaki berpakaian wanita disangka sampah (video) Mac 09, 2016 18:45 (MYT)
Man in women’s clothing found dead after a fight on third floor of condominium (source: bernama) March 10, 2016 00:22


8 Malaysiakini Transwoman falls to death at Subang Jaya condo (source bernama) 9 Mar 2016, 11:24 pm
9 Malaymail online Man in women’s clothing found dead after a fight on third floor of condominium (source bernama) March 9, 2016
11:34 PM
10 Bernama Man In Women’s Clothing Found Dead After A Fight On Third Floor Of Condominium

Sinar Harian

Lelaki berpakaian wanita terjatuh dari tingkat 3  

9 Mac 2016

12 Buletin utama TV3 Video + text March 9 2016
13 Projek MMO, Selepas bergaduh, lelaki berbaju wanita mati jatuh kondo (source: bernama) March 9, 2016
08:11 PM
14 Mstar Lelaki Berpakaian Wanita Mati Terjatuh Kondominium (source: bernama) 9 Mac 2016
15 Babab.net Lelaki Berpakaian Wanita Dijumpai Mati Di sebuah Kondominium Mewah 9 Mac 2016
16 suara   tv Mayat ‘Pondan’ Dicampak Dari Tingkat Tiga Kondominium 9 Mac 2016
17 Siakapkeli Lelaki Jatuh Dari Tingkat 3, Ditemui Mati Dengan Pakaian Wanita 9 Mac 2016
18 e-berita Pondan Melayu Ditemui Maut Jatuh Dari Tingkat Tiga 9 Mac 2016
19 Free Malaysia Today Man dressed as a woman falls to his death (source: bernama) March 10, 2016
20 Malaysia instinct Pondan kekasih negro maut jatuh kondo March 10, 2016
21 Utusan Malaysia Pemuda maut ditolak dari tingkat 3 10 Mac 2016 2:26 AM


Mayat ‘Pondan’ Dalam Bungkusan Dicampak Dari Tingkat Tiga Kondominium


Except for malaysiakini, the rest of the 21 media outlets used pejorative terms to refer to the women

  • Lelaki berpakaian atau berbaju wanita (10)
  • Pondan (6)
  • Cross dresser (2)
  • Man in women’s clothes or clothing or man dressed as woman (6)
  • Transvestite (1)
  • Transwoman (1)
Terms Media outlet Type
Lelaki berpakaian atau berbaju wanita (10) Kosmo Online and print, BM
Harian Metro
Sinar Harian
Utusan Malaysia
Buletin Utama TV3 TV and online, BM
Astro Awani TV and online, English & BM
Projek MMO Online, BM
Pondan (6) Kosmo Online and print, BM
Astro Awani TV and online, English & BM
suara   tv Online, BM
Malaysia instinct
Cross dresser (2) Malaysiandigest Online, English
The Star Online and print, English
Man in women’s clothes or clothing or man dressed as woman (6) The Malaysian insider Online, English & BM
Free Malaysia Today Online, English
Malaymail online
Astro Awani, TV and online, English & BM
The Star Online and print, English
Bernama State news agency
Transvestite (1) The Sun Daily Online and print, English
Transwoman (1) Malaysiakini Online, English & BM

Other information regarding the reports


BM – 9

English -16


Video – 2

Article – 23

Types of media

Only online

  • BM – 8
  • English -3
  • Both – 2

Print and online

  • BM – 4
  • English – 2

TV and online

  • BM – 1
  • Both – 1
Online and print, BM (4) Sinar Harian
Harian Metro
Utusan Malaysia
Online and print, English (2) The Star
The Sun Daily
TV and online, English & BM (1)


Astro Awani

(news published in BM & English)

TV and online,

BM (1)

Buletin utama TV3
Online, English & BM (2) The Malaysian insider (article published in English)

(article published in English)

Online, English (3) Malaymail online
Free Malaysia Today
Online, BM (8) Projek MMO,
suara   tv
Malaysia instinct
State news agency Bernama