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]

 

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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

 

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

 

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

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

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)

 

Siasat Keganasan Terhadap Peserta Perarakan Hari Wanita dan Hentikan Segala Bentuk Keganasan Berunsur anti-LGBT, identiti gender dan ekspresi gender

Justice for Sisters mengutuk sekeras-kerasnya serangan dan gangguan yang dilakukan oleh beberapa individu terhadap beberapa sukarelawan Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) selepas Women’s March Malaysia atau Perarakan Wanita Malaysia pada 10 Mac 2018 kerana dianggap sebagai penyokong LGBT. Kejadian tersebut berlaku di hadapan Balai Polis Dang Wangi.

Serangan ini merupakan satu lagi petanda bahawa trend perilaku intimidasi, diskriminasi serta keganasan terhadap atau atas andaian orientasi seksual, identiti gender, penglibatan dengan LGBT, liberalisme dan hak asasi manusia di Malaysia kian menular. Insiden-insiden juga jelas menunjukkan impunity (kekebalan) atau perlindungan yang dinikmati individu dan kumpulan anti-LGBT selain sikap tidak peduli terhadap kesan tindakan keganasan mereka.

Hal ini jelas dalam video terbitan kumpulan itu sendiri yang mereka terbitkan di media sosial. Jelas kelihatan kumpulan tersebut berasa tindakan intimidasi serta serangan secara lisan dan fizikal berdasarkan andaian tentang penglibatan orang awam dengan golongan LGBT, liberalisme dan idea lain adalah tindakan wajar dan akan mendapat perlindungan pihak berkuasa.

Penting untuk ditekankan, kejadian tempoh hari berlatarbelakangkan suasana di mana berlaku peningkatan aktiviti, ungkapan, tindakan mengkambinghitam, menakut-nakutkan serta retorik anti- LGBT yang disokong oleh kerajaan. Selain itu, hak asasi manusia, feminisme, dan semua yang dianggap sebagai ‘liberal dan pluralistik’ juga ditentang hebat. Kejadian baru-baru ini menunjukkan kumpulan pelaku menyahut pandangan kerajaan berkenaan liberalisme, pluralisme serta LGBT, dan bertindak menggunakan keganasan lantas mengancam keselamatan awam.

Hakikat bahawa kumpulan pelaku tersebut berani menyerang orang awam di hadapan sebuah balai polis sambil merakam serangan mereka dan kemudian menerbit video tersebut di media sosial satu petanda serius impunity, kebebasan dan keyakinan yang dirasai golongan ini dalam tindakan anti-LGBT, homofobia, transfobia, diskriminasi, intimidasi dan keganasan di Malaysia.

Sememangnya, terdapat peningkatan kumpulan anti-LGBT di Malaysia. Pada tahun 2012 dan 2013, sekumpulan samseng di Pahang, menyerang lebih 13 wanita transgender atau mak nyah dengan rantai besi, topi keledar dan batang besi dalam sebuah siri jenayah kebencian yang mengakibatkan kecederaan serius kepada wanita-wanita transgender berkenaan. Berdasarkan laporan media dan laporan Human Rights Watch “I am scared to be a woman,”seorang wanita telah ‘dipukul sehingga koma’ dan ada yang menerima 18 hingga 78 jahitan akibat serangan tersebut. Pada tahun 2018, Skuad Badar Sungai Petani muncul di platform media sosial, mengeluarkan ancaman untuk menangkap mak nyah dan mencukur kepala mereka. Kami juga mendapat maklumat bahawa kumpulan ini telah menggangu, menangkap dan menyerang wanita transgender di komuniti tersebut. Tambah lagi, wanita transgender yang ditangkap dicukurkan kepala mereka.

Kesemua ini adalah bentuk intimidasi dan ugutan serius yang mewujudkan rasa ketakutan dan kebimbangan terutamanya dalam kalangan golongan terpinggir.

Di samping itu, Justice for Sisters dan organisasi lain di Malaysia juga telah mendokumentasi sekurang-kurangnya 12 kes pecah masuk dan kemusnahan harta benda oleh pengganas dan pelaku yang tidak dikenalpasti di kawasan kediaman mangsa; serangan fizikal, penghinaan dan ugutan penyeksaan oleh kumpulan ‘vigilante’ yang seringkali menggunakan nama ‘Pengawal Keamanan’ atau kumpulan “Pengawal Rukun Tetangga” pada tahun 2017 dan 2018.

Pada tahun 2017 dan 2018 berlaku pelbagai gangguan terhadap sekutu LGBTIQ dan pembela hak asasi manusia yang menyokong golongan LGBT secara terbuka. Hal ini termasuklah aduan kepada agensi kerajaan atas tindakan like paparan pro-LGBT di laman media sosial, dituduh dan didakwa menghalang tugas pihak berkuasa semasa serbuan dijalankan; diejek dengan panggilan hinaan; ancaman fizikal dan seksual, dan lain-lain.

Kami menggesa orang ramai menolak keganasan terhadap peserta Women’s March Malaysia dan terus belajar dan mendidik antara satu sama lain mengenai gender, seksualiti dan kepelbagaian dalam masyarakat majmuk Malaysia. Dalam mendukung semangat Perarakan Wanita di Malaysia tempoh hari, kita mesti terus memperkasa dan menerima golongan terpinggir dalam masyarakat sebagai lambang kepelbagaian dan perpaduan.

Kami menggesa pihak polis, Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) dan Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM) untuk menyiasat serangan ini dengan segera supaya keganasan seperti ini tidak dinormalisasikan di Malaysia. Ia adalah pencabulan hak asasi manusia yang serius, termasuk hak untuk hidup, hak kebebasan dan hak keamanan. Trend peningkatan keganasan ini mesti ditangani dengan rundingan dan kerjasama daripada kumpulan hak asasi manusia LGBT.

Kami juga menggesa UMNO untuk menyiasat perkara ini memandangkan hubungan kumpulan pelaku dengan parti politik tersebut. Menjelang pilihan raya akan datang, kami menggesa parti politik henti mempergunakan isu dan golongan LGBT untuk memenangi undi. Golongan LGBT juga adalah pengundi, dan kami menggesa parti-parti politik untuk menumpukan perhatian terhadap diskriminasi, keganasan, peminggiran yang dihadapi oleh rakyat, dan mencadangkan penyelesaian yang bermakna untuk menangani isu-isu mereka.

Kami menggesa agar kerajaan dengan segera menghentikan semua bentuk kegiatan anti-LGBT, termasuklah retorik dan ucapan, kerana kita sudah menyaksikan kesan negatif dan memudaratkan kepada bukan sahaja terhadap individu LGBT malah semua yang disyaki orientasi seksual, identiti gender, eskpresi gender, ciri-ciri seks dan penglibatan mereka dengan individu atau isu LGBTIQ.

Aktiviti anti-LGBT yang disokong atau dibiayai oleh kerajaan harus dihentikan serta merta atas implikasi negatif dan kemudaratan yang teruk. Hal ini juga melanggar hak perlembagaan kami untuk hidup bebas daripada keganasan dan bermaruah.

HARI WANITA SEDUNIA 2018 #WanitaBangkit#WomensMarchMY (4)