Stop censoring us: LGBT people are part of the Malaysian picture

We, the undersigned, are extremely appalled and disturbed by the arbitrary order issued by Datuk Mujahid Rawa, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs to remove portraits of Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik, two human rights defenders (HRD) from the Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the George Town Festival (GTF) 2018 in Penang. The portraits were removed on 7 August 2018, as the photos were deemed to promote LGBT activities. The exhibition showcases people of diverse backgrounds with the Malaysia flag showing their love and pride for Malaysia.

Mujahid added that the he was informed that the exhibition that “showcases pictures labelled LGBT activists and they were portrayed with the rainbow pride logo”. Mujahid also noted that promotion of LGBT activities was not ‘in line with the new government’s policy’.

The order to remove the portraits was arbitrary and unconstitutional, as it violates multiple rights under the Federal Constitution. This includes Articles 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantee the right to live with dignity and freedom from gender-based discrimination. Article 10 of the Federal Constitution protects the freedom of expression, association and assembly of all persons regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition, Muhajid must also clearly cite the policies that are used to remove the portraits, instead of vaguely and arbitrarily stating that the photos are not in line with the new government’s policy. The Federal Constitution exists to ensure that there will be no tyranny of the majority over marginalized groups and people.

As Mujahid has stated on multiple occasions, LGBTIQ persons are citizens and their human rights are protected under the Federal Constitution. As such, this protection must extend to all areas, and not just selective areas the Pakatan Harapan administration is comfortable with.

The removal of the portraits of the two activists also effectively restricts human rights defenders from carrying out their activism and work. The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders explicitly outlines the duties of the state in promoting, fulfilling and protecting the rights of human rights defenders and creating a conducive environment for the promotion of human rights.

The CEDAW Committee in its concluding observations to Malaysia in March 2018 also noted its concern over reprisals and restrictions faced by 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. The Pakatan Harapan administration as the present day government has the obligation to implement the concluding observations and recommendations by the CEDAW Committee.

We also question the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs and its Ministers. It appears as if all LGBTIQ related issues have been placed under the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs. The Department’s approach on LGBTIQ issues focuses on “prevention, rehabilitation and treatment as well as the enforcement of laws” have been heavily criticized for not being evidence and rights based, and for its harmful and discriminatory impacts to Malaysian citizens. We are concerned the policies and practices adopted by the Prime Minister’s department on LGBTIQ persons will further regress the human rights of of all persons, in particular LGBTIQ persons.

Post GE-14, there has been an increase of discrimination, threats and violence towards LGBTIQ persons and allies of LGBTIQ persons. As reported by Nisha and Pang on their respective social media platforms, their photos received thousands of hateful and violent threats and messages, including threats of rape, death and torture. We are concerned the removal of the photos completely misses the actual issues that needs to be addressed – the increasing discrimination, threats and violence against LGBTIQ persons. Moreover, this act of censorship and restriction will only embolden those who hold anti-LGBTIQ views and increase discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ persons and allies with impunity.

We call the Pakatan Harapan administration to engage LGBTIQ human rights groups and uphold its obligations in protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of all persons, especially persons and groups that are marginalized and stigmatized. We believe LGBTIQ persons are integral to Malaysia’s inclusion of all forms of diversity.

Source:

  1. https://www.malaymail.com/s/1660351/mujahid-i-ordered-removal-of-portraits-from-gtf-exhibit-no-promotion-of-lgb

Endorsed by

  1. Agora Society
  2. Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
  3. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  4. Association of Women Lawyers ( AWL )
  5. BEBAS
  6. Centre for Combating Corruption and Cronyism (C4)
  7. Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia
  8. Community Action Network (CAN)
  9. Diversity
  10. ENGAGE
  11. In Between Cultura
  12. Imagined Malaysia
  13. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
  14. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
  15. Justice for Sisters
  16. KL & Sel Chinese Association Women Division
  17. KL & Sel Chinese Association Youth Section
  18. Lingkaran Islam Tradisional (LIT)
  19. Malaysia Design Archive
  20. Malaysia Muda
  21. Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH)
  22. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation
  23. National Human Rights Society of Malaysia (HAKAM)
  24. Neighborhood Performance Group
  25. North South Initiative
  26. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  27. PELANGI Campaign
  28. Penang Heritage Trust
  29. Penang Forum
  30. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
  31. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  32. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  33. PLUHO, People Like Us, Hang Out!
  34. PLUsos
  35. Projek Dialog
  36. Project Liber8
  37. PT Foundation
  38. Pusat KOMAS
  39. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA)
  40. Ruang Kongsi
  41. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
  42. Sisters in Islam, SIS
  43. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
  44. SUARAM
  45. Tenaganita
  46. Transmen of Malaysia
  47. UMANY
  48. Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
  49. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  50. Women Development Organisation of Malaysia

Stigma and discrimination kills, not HIV

MOH must immediately end non-evidence and rights-based strategies and responses in order to end AIDS by 2030.

Justice for Sisters is appalled by the media sensationalism and the panic incited based on the 2017 HIV data by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Utusan Malaysia on 2 August 2018.  Not only that headlines such as ‘LGBT paling ramai hidap HIV’ are sensationalistic, they are also extremely irresponsible, counter productive to public health initiatives and increase barriers to access to healthcare services.

The increasing statistics call for a serious and long overdue review of the efficacy of the government’s policies and programmes on HIV and AIDS, especially in relation to sexual transmission.

In addressing the increasing prevalence of sexual transmission of HIV, especially amongst transgender women and gay men, MOH has adopted some misguided, widely discredited, harmful, and non-evidence and rights-based approaches and programmes. This includes programmes such as mukhayyam, a spiritual camp for LGBT persons by JAKIM, aimed at changing and rehabilitating LGBT persons, who are deemed as social ills. 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)

In addition, the National Strategic Plan on Ending HIV/AIDS 2016-2030 (NSP) outlines a few strategies specifically for Men who have sex with Men (MSM) and trans women. While not all activities in the plan have been budgeted for, some of the strategies and activities include programmes that “provide guidance and motivation through religious approach (tauhid) to face the challenges of life and abandon the practice of unnatural sex”, essentially efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity. These activities are not only blatantly non-evidence and rights-based, but they also have long-term harmful impacts and are counterproductive to achieving the goals to end AIDS by 2030 and the 90-90-90 goals by 2020.

We remind everyone, namely the Ministry of Health (MOH) that stigma, discrimination, lack of access to information, skills and services kill. It is important to note that sexual transmission has steadily increased since 2010. 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. Additionally, the report also 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…. 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.”

However, no meaningful measures have been introduced to address the sexual health crisis. There is no comprehensive sex education in educational institutions currently, a cost effective measure that could address a range of issues in relations to sexual reproductive health and rights, including the increasing prevalence of HIV. The increase of HIV prevalence based on sexual transmission reflects the failure of the government to take meaningful measures to address this matter and government’s attitude regarding sex education. The abstinence-based policies, lack of comprehensive sex education and the increasing allocation of public funds for anti-LGBT activities not only contribute to higher rates of HIV but also result in adverse socio-economic and health impacts. The management of these adverse impacts will place significant economic costs on the government.

Decriminalization is the solution

Populations such as drug users, sex workers, gay men, trans women, others have increased vulnerability to HIV due to criminalization of these populations. Multiple evidence show criminalization or having criminal laws against groups of people merely based on their identities effectively increase vulnerability and health risks, including HIV, STIs, and mental health issues amongst others due to the multiple forms of discrimination, stigma and marginalization. Decriminalization can effectively reduce prevalence of HIV up to 33%-46% amongst some key affected populations.

It is imperative to examine the correlation between the rise in prevalence of HIV among gay men and transgender women and the increasing of anti-LGBT activities and narratives, criminalization, as well as the legal, socio-political and economic barriers and discrimination faced by LGBT population in general.

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.

RECONSIDERING PRIMARY PREVENTION OF HIV NEW STEPS FORWARD IN THE GLOBAL RESPONSE, September 2017 http://mpactglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Reconsidering-Primary-Prevention.pdf

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.

Anjakan pemikiran & sikap kerterbukaan perlu untuk menghentikan kecaman terhadap individu LGBTIQ

Justice for Sisters sangat bimbang dan mengkritik dengan tegas 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 sejak kebelakangan ini.

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

Ucapan-ucapan dan mesej sedemikian memberi kesan negatif yang mendalam terhadap emosi, kesejahteraan, keselamatan dan psikologi bukan sahaja individu LGBTIQ, malah orang 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 golongan LGBTIQ; cemuhan atau kejian secara lisan; dan percubaan untuk “membetulkan”  individu LGBTIQ, antaranya.

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

Pencerahan dalam Malaysia Baharu

Kami percaya bahawa 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.

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.

Kami meminta orang ramai untuk bersikap lebih terbuka serta berdialog secara baik dan tenang untuk mendengar dan memahami pengalaman hidup, realiti dan natijah diskriminasi terhadap individu LGBTIQ.

Kami menggesa Suruhunjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) dan Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM) untuk memantau trend ini dan ucapan yang mengandungi unsur kebencian, keganasan dan prejudis di laman sosial media. Kami juga meminta SKMM serta pihak Polis DiRaja Malaysia (PDRM) khususnya, untuk mengambil berat unsur prejudis dalam laporan yang diterima sebelum mengambilkan tindakan terhadap orang yang diadukan supaya tiada mangsa ketidakadilan.

Kami juga menggesa kerajaan untuk memandang serius isu diskriminasi dari segi gender, orientasi seksual, etnik, agama, latar belakang geografi, kewarganegaraan, dan sebagainya yang sangat ketara di Malaysia. Kami juga menggesa Kementerian Komunikasi dan Multimedia dan Kementerian Pendidikan dan agensi lain yang berkenaan untuk memandang serius ucapan berunsur kebencian, keganasan dan prejudis, dan memperkenalkan kempen anti-diskriminasi di institusi pendidikan dan di tempat kerja dengan kerjasama sektor swasta.

Kami turut menasihat orang ramai untuk melakukan laporan kepada pihak PDRM atau Suruhanjaya yang berkenaan dengan segera sekiranya anda mendapati laporan telah dilakukan terhadap anda.

 

PERKAHWINAN KANAK-KANAK: BERHENTI BERDOLAK-DALIK, TANGGANI ISU TANPA ALASAN

Kami bimbang dan memandang serius  kenyataan Dato’ Mohd Amar Abdullah, Timbalan Menteri Besar Kelantan pada 4 Julai 2018 mengenai  kekesalan beliau terhadap perkahwinan di bawah umur antara seorang lelaki berumur 41 tahun dan kanak-kanak perempuan berumur 11 tahun yang telah tular baru-baru ini. Beliau juga mengatakan bahawa ‘ isu zina, anak luar nikah, gay dan lesbian adalah isu yang lebih besar berbanding isu perkahwinan kanak-kanak. Baginya, isu perkahwinan anak  adalah tidak salah dari segi agama dan tidak patut diperbesarkan menjadi isu negara, benda ini adalah isu terpencil, bukan semua lelaki kahwin dengan budak berusia 11 tahun’.

Kami khuatir kenyataan sedemikian menunjukkan sikap tidak serius kerajaan negeri Kelantan dalam menangani isu perkahwinan kanak-kanak bawah umur yang sememangnya ialah satu isu kritikal yang memerlukan tindakan segera dan serius oleh kerajaan pusat serta kerajaan negeri.

Menurut kenyataan oleh Majlis Peguam Negara, antara tahun 2005 dan 2015, sebanyak 10,240 penduduk beragama Islam telah membuat permohonan bagi perkahwinan kanak-kanak di Jabatan Kehakiman Syariah Malaysia. Manakala, antara  tahun 2000 dan 2014, 7,719 permohonan perkahwinan telah dibuat bagi kanak-kanak perempuan antara 16 dan 18 tahun bukan Islam.

Mengikut statistik global, jika tiada sebarang pengurangan dalam statistik bagi  perkahwinan kanak-kanak menjelang tahun 2050, sebanyak 1.2 billion kanak-kanak perempuan akan dikahwinkan.

Selain itu, Bernama telah melaporkan pada 4 Julai 2018 bahawa pernikahan antara lelaki berusia 41 tahun dengan kanak-kanak berusia 11 tahun itu tidak sah dan tidak mendapat kebenaran Majlis Agama Islam Narathiwat.

Justeru itu, ini bukanlah suatu isu yang terpencil  yang boleh dipandang remeh seperti yang didakwa oleh Dato Mohd Amar. Perkahwinan kanak-kanak merupakan suatu perkara yang memerlukan pendekatan yang menyeluruh sekaligus punca-punca yang menggalakan isu ini berterusan harus dikaji dengan teliti. Hal ini termasuklah isu kemiskinan, kurang pemahaman gender dan kurang keutamaan terhadap perlindungan hak kanak-kanak. Kahwin bawah umur memberi impak dari sudut kesihatan dan psikologi yang boleh menyebabkan kanak-kanak bawah umur terdedah kepada risiko keganasan dan penderaan. Tambahan pula, kahwin bawah umur akan menjejaskan peluang bagi kanak-kanak untuk mendapatkan pendidikan formal sekaligus membebankan mereka dengan kerja-kerja dan tanggungjawab  rumahtangga yang mereka tidak mampu jalankan.

Turut membimbangkan, isu berkenaan zina dan LGBT digunakan untuk mengalihkan perhatian orang awam dari isu utama di sini, iaitu isu perkahwinan kanak-kanak. Cubaan kerajaan negeri untuk berdolak dalik dan menjadikan isu-isu zina dan LGBT sebagai kambing hitam kepada isu sebenar hanya akan menyumbang kepada stigma dan salah faham masyarakat terhadap isu yang sebenar.

Kerajaan negeri dan kerajaan pusat harus bertanggungjawab  dalam menegakkan dan melindungi hak kanak-kanak sekaligus meletakkan kepentingan dan keperluan kanak-kanak sebagai keutamaan. Ini adalah selaras dengan tanggungjawab Malaysia sebagai negara yang telah meratifikasikan  Konvensyen Mengenai Hak Kanak-Kanak (CRC)  JAG juga menyokong cadangan Majlis Peguam dalam penubuhan Suruhanjaya Kanak-Kanak yang melaporkan terus ke Parlimen dengan kuasa untuk menangani isu perkahwinan kanak-kanak dan perkara-perkara lain yang berkaitan dengan kanak-kanak.

Diterbitkan oleh Gabungan Organisasi Wanita Bertindak bagi Kesamarataan Gender (JAG):

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  3. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  4. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  5. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita (PSWS)
  6. SAWO (Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group)
  7. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  8. Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
  9. Women Center for Change (WCC)

 

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) removes trans identities as a mental disorder to dismantle stigma

On 19 June 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which includes the long overdue removal of all trans-related diagnoses from the mental disorders chapter. This is a historic milestone towards depathologisation or the declassification of trans identities as a medical condition and eliminating stigma, discrimination and barriers to fundamental human rights, including rights to self-determination and right to health.

Gender incongruence, which is “characterized by a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex,” is now reclassified under sexual health conditions in the ICD-11.

The classification of trans identities as a mental health disorder have not only adversely contributed to an inaccurate and discriminatory perception of trans people, but also multiple forms of violence, humiliating and dehumanizing experiences, denial of rights, and efforts to ‘correct’ trans people. In Malaysia, for example, multiple state-funded efforts that aim to correct and rehabilitate transgender persons and school children based on gender expressions have been introduced since 2010. Additionally,  the return to the right path or ‘balik ke pangkal jalan’ rhetoric adds multiple forms of pressure and burden on trans persons to ‘change’, which causes psychological and emotional harm, among others.

This significant revision provides further evidence that trans identities are not a form of mental disorder, and should signal the revision of harmful and non-evidence based policies and laws that criminalize transgender persons, as well as the reversal of discriminatory practices.

The classification of trans-related diagnosis as a sexual health condition implies that all treatment of trans-related conditions must be treated with evidence based medical approaches. We urge the Ministry of Health and other relevant government agencies to study the ICD-11 in order to ensure that state policies, especially public health policies are in accordance with current medical and scientific understanding, standards and ethics of good medical practice as well as standards of human rights.

We also urge the newly instated Malaysian government to engage transgender persons and human rights groups to address the discrimination and marginalisation faced by transgender persons. Consistent with the objectives of the ICD-11 to eliminate barriers and meet the healthcare needs of transgender persons, we also urge the Ministry of Health to introduce trans-specific healthcare services as well as improve overall access to healthcare for trans people. This necessitates the removal of barriers that trans people face in accessing healthcare, including stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings, the inaccessibility of legal gender recognition and the lack of expertise of healthcare workers.

Open letter: Education institutions must be safe spaces for all students

YBhg. Dato’ Sri Alias Bin Haji Ahmad – Secretary-General, Ministry of Education Malaysia

YBhg. Dato’ Suriani bt Dato’ Ahmad – Secretary-General, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development

Tan Sri Razali Ismail –  Chairperson, SUHAKAM

Datuk Paul Low – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

We, the undersigned, strongly object the ‘Back to the Fitrah: Menyantuni LGBT Kembali ke Jalan Allah’ forum slated to take place on 24th March 2018 in University of Science Malaysia (USM) featuring two panelists, and the overall trend of increasing anti-LGBT programmes in educational institutions. In March earlier this year, USM also released a poster and short video competition inviting submissions on ‘menyantuni golongan LGBT’ (evangelizing with the intention to change one’s sexual orientation and gender identity) open to students of USM and the general public .

We are extremely concerned by the overall harmful impact of such programmes, which aim to change one’s sexual orientation and gender identity using a dakwah (missionary) approach. Despite claims of ‘menyantuni’ or ‘politely approaching’ LGBT persons, many documented cases have shown that such attempts resulted in an invasion of privacy, increase of lack of personal security and safety, increase of targeting and harassment of persons based on gender expression and actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, increase of isolation, all of which can have severe long term impact on the students academic performance, health and well-being.

Conversion, reparative or rehabilitation and efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity have been rejected by all major national mental health organizations due to the lack of evidence that support the efficacy of these efforts or therapies, and its harmful impact. There are many forms of rehabilitation, reparative or conversion therapy, including medical and religious methods, all of which are harmful. In fact, a few countries, including Malta and parts of Canada have introduced laws to ban conversion therapy given the harm it has caused not only on LGBTIQ persons, but also the people around them.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health,  Dainius Pūras, during his country visit to Malaysia between November and December 2014 expressed concerns over the “so-called “corrective therapies” practiced by 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 therefore extremely disconcerting to witness the University’s continued endorsement of these programmes given the glaring harm on LGBTI persons. USM also organised a similar panel in March 2016. On both occasions, panelists comprised  individuals that promote the very harmful view that LGBT persons can be ‘cured’ through rehabilitation, reparative and conversion therapy. Such biased programmes are part of a rising trend in educational institutions, where anti-LGBT campaigns, harmful information that reinforce the ‘balik ke pangkal jalan’ or ‘return to the right path’ rhetoric, and rehabilitation, reparative and conversion therapy for LGBT persons are disseminated and promoted.

Such programmes create a toxic and unsafe environment for all students and staff, LGBTI and gender diverse persons in particular, and run counter to the aim of such institutions that are supposed to provide an open learning environment for all. We believe programmes like this will perpetuate toxic masculinity which enables, justifies and perpetuates the mistreatment, bullying and discrimination of LGBTI persons with impunity.

Research and recent cases reported in the media show educational institutions are unfortunately a site of violence for many students, especially for LGBTI and gender diverse persons. On the record: violence against LBT persons in Malaysia and I am scared to be a Woman, two reports on the violence and situation of LBT persons document cases of expulsion; drop out due to bullying; lack of interest to attend school because of a lack of freedom to express and be themselves compounded by non inclusive and discriminatory school policies and practices; sexual harassment and violence; physical, verbal and emotional violence; isolation among others.

“I quit school at age 11 because people around me were always bullying me. I was stressed. I felt like I was going to explode.”

– Azlene, a trans woman in Kuantan recalls her experiences in school in the mid 90s, I am scared to be a woman

“We met in May 2000 … we were talking on the phone everyday. My friends from my school knew about it because when they attend events, they could see it, right. And then they started asking, ‘What’s going on? Are you going out with this girl? Are you dating this girl? What’s going on?’ … ‘Like, you do know that it is wrong, right? It is against the religion.’ And these were not just Muslim people telling me, because I have a fair bit of friends of different religions and races and beliefs, and they all said the same thing. ‘Stacy, it is wrong. What the hell is wrong with you?”

– Stacy, a bisexual woman recalls an intervention by her school friends based on an assumption that she is in a ‘lesbian relationship’. Stacy also experienced isolation as a result. On the record: violence against LBT persons

The brutal assault and torture that led to the death of a 19 year old young person in Penang by schoolmates who used to bully him in school based his gender expression and perceived sexual orientation and gender identity is an alarm bell that rings loud and clear, and serious efforts must be taken to create a diverse and inclusive society and end bullying based on gender.

Just two weeks ago, the CEDAW committee in its Concluding Observations to Malaysia recalled General Recommendation No. 36 (2017) on the right of girls and women to education and recommended that Malaysia:

36. (e) Adopts anti-bullying policies based on alternative strategies to address bullying, such as counselling services and positive discipline, and undertake awareness-raising measures to foster equal rights for LBTI students.

Many good practices on actual inclusion of LGBTI and gender diverse persons in all levels of education are available. The From Insults to Inclusion report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) offers many tools, good practices and recommendations to create an inclusive environment in educational institutions. The report makes 6 recommendations:

  1. Analyse the situation
  2. Develop a policy framework that supports inclusion
  3. Mainstream diversity and inclusion in curricula and learning materials
  4. Support teachers to deliver inclusive education and effective responses to bullying, violence and discrimination
  5. Promote safe and inclusive school cultures and environments. This includes fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion and respect; identifying hotspots for bullying; links to counselling, health, or other support services are made available in ways that respect students’ right to privacy and confidentiality.
  6. Build a stronger evidence base on what works

We believe in the right to self-determination and bodily autonomy, and people should be free to express themselves and be who they are, without it affecting their access, opportunities and right to an education. We call on and strongly urge the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and SUHAKAM to assess the harm and impact of these programmes; promote diversity, inclusion and respect; and immediately end all anti-LGBT activities and rhetoric.

Ends/-

Endorsed by

Groups

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. PELANGI — Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative
  3. Transmen of Malaysia
  4. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA)
  5. Sisters in Islam
  6. Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
  7. Diversity
  8. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
  9. Celebrating Identities
  10. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita

Individuals

  1. Suri Kempe, feminist activist
  2. Manis Chen, trans woman, activist
  3. Vizla Kumaresan, Clinical Psychologist and feminist activist
  4. Teoh Han Hui, feminist and digital activist
  5. Timothy Philipp Gan, academic and social activist
  6. Dorian Wilde, feminist activist
  7. thilaga, feminist researcher and activist
  8. Dr Subatra Jayaraj, Sexual & Reproductive Health and feminist activist
  9. Mohani Niza,  editor
  10. Siti Kasim, human rights lawyer and activist
  11. Jac sm Kee, feminist activist
  12. Dr Joseph N. Goh, academic
  13. Jeremy Kwan, social activist