Justice for Sisters alarmed at raids targeting LGBTQI community by state religious authorities

HUMAN rights group Justice for Sisters (JFS) has criticised the actions of state religious authorities in the increased raids targeting the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) community.

The latest incident involves the arrest of five transgender individuals in Ipoh under state syariah law in an operation codenamed Ops Cegah Pondan. The five individuals arrested are of Thai nationality who were working in a massage parlour.

A spokesperson from the state’s Syariah Law Enforcement Unit said that the five individuals were being detained under Section 55 of the Perak Syariah Criminal Enactment which states that it is an offence for any male to dress as a woman or behaves as a woman in a public place for the purpose of immoral activities.

JFS further described the raid as reflecting a worrying disregard for basic human rights and dignity in addition to the impunity with which the state Islamic department continues to conduct their activities.

“The name of the operation is extremely disrespectful, dehumanising and reflects the state’s profound prejudice and misunderstanding of gender identity,” berated JFS co-founder Thilaga Sulathireh.

“There is an abundance of scientific evidence that confirms the normalcy of trans people – they do not need to be changed, prevented or criminalised. When the state not only targets but tries to ‘curb’ a group based on their identity, that is a serious cause for concern.”

Thilaga also expressed dismay at the media’s reporting of the latest incident which uses derogatory language which reinforces harmful stereotypes.

“We urge the media to resist normalising the use of derogatory language against trans women which only serves to further marginalise and demean them,” appealed Thilaga. “We call for an end to raids and activities that criminalise and de-humanise transgender people as both represent gross violations of human rights and dignity.”

Thilaga Sulathireh (Pic credit: Coconuts KL)

She added: “We maintain that respect and understanding of gender identity is essential for a truly inclusive and fair society, and urge the media to take decisive responsibility in dismantling discriminatory language and practices.”

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) also highlighted the differing attitudes in neighbouring countries. While Thailand is making notable progress toward inclusive policies, transgender individuals in Malaysia – regardless of their citizenship – continue to be unjustly targeted and systematically marginalised by state laws. – Dec 12, 2023


Main pic credit: Sinar Harian

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