HENTIKAN KECAMAN & PEMPOLITIKAN PELANTIKAN RANIA MEDINA SEBAGAI AHLI CCM

Justice for Sisters memandang serius kecaman dan pempolitikan perlantikan Rania Zara Medina sebagai ahli Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM).

Perlantikan Rania adalah berdasarkan proses undian dan temuduga oleh komuniti wanita transgender yang berlangsung pada April 2019.

Malaysia sebagai penerima dana Global Fund bagi respons HIV telah menginstitusikan CCM sejak 2009, dibawah pemerintahan Kerajaan Barisan Nasional lagi. Oleh demikian tidak timbul persoalan berkenaan konspirasi kerajaan Pakatan Harapan and komuniti LGBT sepertimana yang diwar-warkan oleh beberapa pihak.

CCM merupakan mekanisme yang melibatkan gabungan agensi kerajaan, organisasi masyarakat sivil atau civil society organizations (CSO), kumpulan agama, ahli akademik antara lain. Wakil CSO terdiri daripada wakil komuniti individu yang hidup dengan HIV, orang muda, wanita transgender, pengguna dadah, pekerja seks, men who have sex with men (MSM).

Setiap komuniti diwakili seorang calon daripada komuniti itu sendiri untuk memastikan isu-isu yang dialami oleh setiap komuniti berkenaan HIV diwakili sewajarnya serta dapat dibincangkan dengan lebih tepat dan menyeluruh. Harus juga disedari bahawa mekanisme CCM ini memberikan peluang kepada komuniti yang selalunya didiskriminasi, distigma dan mengalami perwakilan yang rendah untuk mewakili isu masing-masing.

CCM merupakan mekanisme dan model interdisciplinary yang baik untuk mengolah program dan intervensi HIV yang selaras dengan keperluan komunti masing-masing, memantau implementasi program HIV antara lain. Secara keseluruhannya mekanisme CCM membantu kerajaan untuk mencapai sasaran kerajaan dan global iaitu mencapai sifar HIV atau zero HIV menjelang 2030.

Justice for Sister memandang serius reaksi kumpulan-kumpulan konservatif, media dan parti politik yang mempolitikan dan mensensasikan isu perlantikan Rania. Khususnya, kami memandang serius penyebaran gambar Rania di zaman persekolahan bagi tujuan mengaibkan beliau. Pihak media dan orang ramai haruslah menghormati identiti dan martabat diri seseorang, termasuklah individu transgender.

Kami juga menyeru parti politik untuk bertindak rasional dan tidak beremosi dalam isu ini untuk mengurang salah faham, diskriminasi dan ketegangan atau konflik dalam masyarakat terhadap individu transgender. Selain itu, reaksi negatif ini khususnya membawa kemudaratan yang tinggi kepada privasi dan keselamatan diri Rania dan individu transgender lain. Parti politik dan juga pihak-pihak lain haruslah sensitif dan bertanggungjawab dalam menilai kesan reaksi mereka.

Kami mengambil kesempatan ini juga untuk menegaskan bahawa wanita transgender adalah juga sebahagian daripada kepelbagaian umat manusia. Pemahaman berkenaan individu transgender di Malaysia adalah sangat negatif dan tidak berasaskan fakta atau pengalaman hidup individu transgender. Hal ini meneruskan lagi stigma dan diskriminasi terhadap individu transgender. Kami menegaskan bahawa Artikel 5 dan 8 Perlembagaan Persekutuan memelihara martabat diri seseorang dan melindungi rakyat Malaysia daripada diskriminsasi berdasarkan gender dan status lain.

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Apply Standing Orders towards offensive speech against LGBT people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS/=

 

Standing Orders of the DEWAN RAKYAT

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

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

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

 

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

Parliament session 1 (16 July – 16 August 2018)

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

 

Parliament session 2 (15 October – 11 December 2018)

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

 

Parliament session 3 (11 March – on-going)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsed by:

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

Rise of crimes and violence against trans women needs urgent attention

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year

Number of reported cases murder of trans women

2007

1

2008

1

2009

2

2010

1

2011

1

2012

1

2013

2

2014

0

2015

0

2016

1

2017

4

2018

2

2019

1

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

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

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

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

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

Need for proactive preventive measures

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsed by:

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

Annex 1

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

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

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

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

 

Terengganu public caning marks one of the most degrading and cruel forms of sentencing in Malaysia’s history

KUALA TERENGGANU, 3 September — Malaysia’s first public caning held in a courtroom at the Terengganu Syariah High Court today marks a dark chapter in this nation’s history. The harsh sentence of six strokes carried out in a public courtroom demonstrated abhorrently little regard for the dignity of the two women who were sentenced under Section 30 and 59(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Takzir Terengganu).

The caning proceeded despite huge protests by diverse actors in civil society, and clear recommendations by human rights and legal advocates to end the practice of whipping and caning in the criminal justice system as they are forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

What transpired today was a spectacle executed in front of more than 100 attendees who gathered in the courtroom to witness the event. The women were hounded by the media the moment they arrived at the Terengganu Syariah High Court. Leading up to the execution, news circulated on social media with some parties calling on members of the public to attend the session in support of state action against the LGBT community. This included incitement by the state government agency, Institut Modal Insan Terengganu Sejahtera (i-MITS) for mass attendance as a sign of “anti-LGBT solidarity”.

The lead up to, and unfolding of this event, signal an alarming increase in the targeting of marginalised individuals. It also signals the state’s complicity in inciting public participation in violence, and the normalizing of violence as a form of education.

Presiding judge, Amarul Azmi, told the courtroom that the execution was intended as a reminder and deterrent to members of society. This was reiterated by the Terengganu executive councillor in charge of syariah implementation, Saiful Bahri Mamat, at a press conference later.

They added the execution was to demonstrate to the public how syariah caning is supposedly ‘kinder’ compared to caning executed under civil law. Remarks by the judges and state exco that the syariah caning is not intended to cause pain or harm the women is in direct contradiction to the degree of humiliation they faced today from the orchestrated spectacle, and the resulting psychological and emotional impact. The state’s actions here are responsible for the violence of the trauma, and humiliation caused on the two women as well as the society at large.

The caning was executed by officers from the Malaysian Prison Department, an agency under the federal Ministry of Home Affairs. Observing from the courtroom public gallery, it was evident that the strength of caning of the two women differed, as one person was clearly caned harder than the other.

State exco Saiful Bahri Mamat acknowledged there was noticeable discrepancy in the caning, but said issues surrounding the execution was under the jurisdiction of the Prison Department. This raises serious concerns regarding the uneven and unacceptable standards for accountability in the execution of justice under the syariah legal system and the legal justice systems in this country. .

Saiful said today’s execution should pave the way for future canings under syariah law. He did not rule out the use of public caning in other cases, and the sentence can be carried out in any location determined by the court as outlined by section 125 of the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2001.

The judge and the state exco emphasized that the two women had pleaded guilty and accepted the punishment, as they did not file an appeal within 14 days, indicating their sincerity and sense of repentance. It is vital to note that the two women had no legal representation, which grossly impacts on the protection of their right to fair trial and justice and the resulting long-term impact.

Despite this critical lack, the court proceeded with the execution which is now the most degrading and cruel form of public sentencing in Malaysia’s history. LGBT persons have limited access to redress and justice. Finding a syariah lawyer for LGBT-related cases is extremely challenging. This is compounded by other factors including lack of family support, social stigma and lack of resources due to multiple forms of discrimination.

This case demonstrates multiple failures in the justice system, the complicity and intention by the state to target and persecute already marginalised members of the community, and to create conditions for public acceptance of violent and humiliating treatment cloaked in the ironic language of ‘kindness’ and ‘compassion.’ It sets a dangerous precedent for the increased policing of morality and sexual identities in Malaysia. We call on all members of the Malaysian public to unequivocally reject such a violent trajectory.

We further call on our elected leaders to take immediate and committed action to end and eliminate all forms of state-sanctioned moral policing, erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms, and to cease the cruel, inhumane and degrading practice of whipping and caning in the criminal justice system. The recognition and protection of human dignity is a fundamental principle enshrined in the Federal Constitution, widely ratified human rights instruments, as well as in all religions. There is no justification for the deliberate humiliation, harm and degradation that took place in the Terengganu Court today.

 

  • ENDS//

 

Statement by

Justice for Sisters, LGBT groups and individuals in Malaysia

3 Sept 2018

Press contact:
thilaga: justiceforsisters@gmail.com

 

Caning for consensual sex acts is a form of torture against lesbian women

Immediately review the court decision and cease implementation of caning

We strongly condemn the punishment meted out by the Terengganu Syarie judge Kamalruazmi Ismail on 12 August 2018 in the case of two women who were convicted for attempted sexual relations. The two women were sentenced to RM 3,300 in fines and 6 strokes of caning. The sentencing of the two women in Terengganu is a gross violation of their dignity and human rights as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, international human rights treaties that Malaysia has ratified and international laws.

The judge fixed 28 August 2018 to carry out the caning sentence, and both women were released on bail for RM 1,500 with two bailors. The two can also be imprisoned for 4 months should they fail to pay the RM 3,300 fine. The two women arrested in April 2018 in Terengganu were convicted under Section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Takzir Terengganu) read together with Section 59(1).

The erroneous and prejudicial sentences meted out by the Terengganu Syarie judge Kamalruazmi Ismail amounts to torture. Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture defines torture as ‘any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes … or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.’[1] In other words, punishment based on discrimination by any public official that results in suffering, mentally or physically is defined here as a form of torture.

The arbitrary arrest and the punishment meted out for consensual sex between adults violate multiple human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), including Article 1 (the right to live with dignity), Article 5 (the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment), Article 12 (right to privacy), Article 13 (freedom of movement).

In the context of Malaysia, the punishments are also violations of the rights enshrined under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, including Article 5 that protects the right to life and liberty, Article 8 that guarantees equality and non-discrimination based on gender, and Article 9 that guarantees freedom of movement.

The judge was also quoted as saying. “adequate punishment must be meted out so that this becomes a lesson and reminder to not just the two of you, but the members of society.” The role of the court is to ensure justice is served and upheld, not to increase victimisation of persons based on personal prejudice. Punishment cannot be used as lessons for society. Punishment as a means to serve as lessons for others unfairly exploits and burdens the individuals with severe punishments as stand-ins for others. Such prejudicial thinking can dangerously allow for the abuse of power and exploitation of innocent people, perpetuating injustices.

Criminalization of consensual sex between adults is a gross violation of human rights, and Malaysia has been called to review and repeal laws that criminalise LGBTQ persons based on consensual sexual acts in many international human rights fora. Consensual sex acts between adults is not a crime.

The CEDAW committee in its concluding observations to Malaysia in March 2018 called Malaysia to “amend all laws which discriminate against LBTI women, including the provisions of the Penal Code and Syariah laws that criminalise same-sex relations between women and cross-dressing”.

We call for the implementation of the sentence to be reviewed and revoked immediately. We call for SUHAKAM and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to immediately intervene and stop the implementation of the punishments. We are extremely concerned about the impact of the punishment not only on the two women, but also on the LGBTQ population as a whole.

We are also extremely concerned about the escalating attacks and repression against LGBTIQ persons in Malaysia, and the impact of such punishment in this environment. Such punishment will further fuel hatred, discrimination and violence towards LGBTIQ persons with impunity. The new government has repeatedly affirmed that LGBTIQ Malaysians are protected as citizens under the Federal Constitution. This case calls for Pakatan Harapan to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of all persons, including LGBTIQ persons. We call the Pakatan Harapan government to immediately intervene in this matter, and end victimisation and torture against the two women in this case.

Endorsed by:

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
  3. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  4. SAWO (Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group)
  5. Association for Women Lawyers (AWL)
  6. Pelangi Campaign
  7. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Malaysia
  8. PLUsos
  9. PLUHO, People Like Us Hangout!
  10. Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH)

References:

Pasangan lesbian didenda, disebat, 12 August 2018, Sinar Harian

http://www.sinarharian.com.my/edisi/terengganu/pasangan-lesbian-didenda-disebat-1.867672

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/CAT.aspx

Seksyen 30. Musahaqah.

Mana-mana orang perempuan yang melakukan musahaqah adalah melakukan suatu kesalahan dan apabila disabitkan boleh didenda tidak melebihi lima ribu ringgit atau dipenjarakan selama tempoh tidak melebihi tiga tahun atau disebat tidak melebihi enam sebatan atau dihukum dengan mana-mana kombinasi hukuman itu.

Section 30. Musahaqah.

Any female person who commits musahaqah shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to whipping not exceeding six strokes or to any combination thereof.

Seksyen 59. Percubaan.

(1) Mana-mana orang yang cuba-

(a) melakukan sesuatu kesalahan yang boleh dihukum di bawah Enakmen ini atau di bawah mana-mana undang-undang bertulis lain yang berhubung dengan Hukum Syarak; atau                    (b) menyebabkan kesalahan itu dilakukan,

dan dalam percubaan itu melakukan apa-apa perbuatan ke arah pelakuan kesalahan itu hendaklah, jika tiada peruntukan nyata dibuat oleh Enakmen ini atau undang-undang bertulis lain itu, mengikut mana-mana yang berkenaan, bagi hukuman percubaan itu, dihukum dengan apa-apa hukuman yang diperuntukkan bagi kesalahan itu.

(2) Apa-apa tempoh pemenjaraan yang dikenakan sebagai hukuman bagi suatu percubaan untuk melakukan suatu kesalahan atau untuk menyebabkan suatu kesalahan dilakukan tidak boleh melebihi satu perdua daripada tempoh maksimum pemenjaraan yang diperuntukkan bagi kesalahan itu.

Section 59. Attempt.

1) Any person who attempts-

(a) to commit an offence punishable under this Enactment or under any other written law relating to Hukum Syarak; or

(b) to cause such an offence to be committed,

and in such attempt does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall, where no express provision is made by this Enactment or by such other written law, as the case may be, for the punishment of such attempt, be punished with such punishment as is provided for the offence.

(2) Any term of imprisonment imposed as a punishment for an attempt to commit an offence or to cause an offence to be committed shall not exceed one half of the maximum term provided for the offence.

 

LGBT activists: Silence and censorship perpetuate discrimination and hate

A joint statement by LGBT human rights activists and groups

We welcome the timely meeting between Minister in the PMO Mujahid Rawa and Nisha Ayub on 11 August 2018. The meeting was a crucial and positive first step in showing the government’s openness to dialogue and to create a Malaysia that is inclusive and compassionate. This dialogue is significant as many in Malaysia are not aware of the extent to which transgender persons in Malaysia live with daily experiences of stigma, discrimination, and violence.

The lack of open channels and opportunities to hear LGBT people is in fact what perpetuates the misunderstanding towards people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. The stigma, discrimination, and violence experienced by transgender people have been well documented in multiple reports, including a report by the Human Rights Watch titled “I’m Scared to Be a Woman”.

Nonetheless, we wish the Minister had met with us before he gave the instructions to remove Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik’s portraits from an exhibition at the George Town Festival. Had the Minister met us earlier, he would have understood the intentions of Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik for agreeing to be photographed for this exhibition, and not simply accuse them of ‘promoting LGBT activities’. He could also have avoided some of the harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about LGBT activists that he said during the press conference following the dialogue.

The attempt to define and classify LGBT activists on our behalf is divisive, problematic, and unhelpful. The government has the duty to respect and protect the human rights of all human rights defenders, and create an enabling environment for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights.

Nisha Ayub is regarded as a respected human rights defender not only in Malaysia, but also globally. Nisha is a Malaysian icon given her immense contribution to human rights. Nisha became an activist after having been subjected to multiple forms of violence based on her gender identity, including arbitrary arrest, detention and imprisonment; misgendering and shaming; hateful, degrading, and violent comments and threats. As an activist, she further experienced multiple forms of erasure and exclusion from Malaysia’s history and narratives, as evidenced by the act of removing her portrait from a celebration of Malaysian patriotism. Amidst the portrait debacle and its ensuing events, she has been receiving an increasing volume of hateful, degrading and violent messages and threats.

Despite Mujahid Rawa’s limited jurisdiction, the call for removal of the portraits also directly affected Pang

Khee Teik, a human rights defender and arts organiser. Like Nisha, Pang had also received thousands hateful and violent comments online. Therefore, we also call Mujahid Rawa to also meet Pang, in order to understand the overarching impact of the state’s policies on all persons regardless of religious background. Pang, in his activism, has attempted to make visible the discrimination, violence and marginalisation faced by LGBT persons. For this he has received public vilification, investigation by the state, loss of employment, and hateful comments and threats, amongst others.

Comments that incite violence and fear of personal safety and security are unacceptable. In the past, the government were silent on the attacks against LGBT persons and in some cases subjected the victims to further persecution. Therefore, we welcome the Minister’s call for no discrimination towards the trans community.

We also acknowledge the homophobic and transphobic reactions of the public towards Mujahid and his statement. This underscores our view that people regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation, can be subjected to transphobia, homophobia and discrimination due to their association with transgender or LGBTIQ persons.

We also urge Malaysians to please listen to LGBT people, to give an opportunity for us to tell you our side of the story, and to stop hateful, degrading and violent comments. These comments have a severe impact on the well-being, safety and security of not just people that are targeted, but the whole LGBT population. In fact, they also create an environment which encourages and overlooks bullying, blackmail, emotional, physical and sexual violence, and other criminal acts carried out towards LGBT persons by various people, including family members. The pervasive level of stigma and discrimination also hinders LGBT from accessing healthcare services, justice, and other fundamental rights. The public does not hear about these because LGBT people have been silenced and erased. Furthermore, those of us who face threats do not feel safe to share our stories.

People who insist that LGBT people are not discriminated in Malaysia make such assumptions precisely because we have not been allowed to talk about our experiences. We encourage people to learn and educate themselves about gender identity and sexual orientation, and to talk to us.

We believe openness and dialogue can have transformative effects. In the spirit of openness, healing and compassion, we call for all relevant government Ministries to meet with LGBT human rights groups. Together we hope to promote a kinder, more compassionate, more democratic Malaysia.

End

LGBT human rights groups of Malaysia