Transsexuals in Malaysia are being terrorised by a series of attacks from gangs of weapon-wielding aggressors.
At least 13 people have been assaulted in the last six months. Six police reports have been made but there have been no arrests, despite one victim handing in an ID card dropped by her attacker.
The latest attack happened on Wednesday when a transgender woman, Rozi, was set upon by six men on motorbikes and beaten with chains, steel bars and crash helmets in Kuantan in eastern Malaysia in the early hours of the morning.
‘They hit me non-stop till I fell, and then hit me some more,’ Rozi, who received five stitches to a deep cut on the back of her head, told Malaysia’s The Star newspaper. Her friend Sasha tried to help but was also beaten-up. The thugs didn’t steal anything from the two victims, suggesting the attack was a hate crime.
Another transgender woman, 24-year-old carwash attendant Mona, told The Star that she was attacked twice in a week in September last year. During one attack her assailant cut a deep wound on her neck that had needed 18 stitches. At the other attack one of the assaulters dropped his ID card. Mona handed the ID into the police but no one was arrested. ‘I feel scared now whenever I go out at night,’ she said.
A friend of Rozi and Sasha, Mohd Bakri told The Star he knew of attacks on transsexuals in three other areas besides where Mona was attacked. Bakri said: ‘We suspect the attacks were carried out by the same group of people. They do not rob their victims, so we do not know what their motive is.’
Pang Khee Teik who campaigns for the rights of sexual minorities in Malaysia wrote to The Star to commend the transsexuals for going to the police and speaking out to the press. ‘It often feels pointless to speak up about injustice when the law doesn’t appear to be on your side,’ he said. ‘This seems reinforced by the police not arresting anyone. I urge the police to carry out thorough investigations and take action against the assailants.’
Pang added on Twitter on Thursday ‘'WHAT IS MORE HORRIFYING than acts of violence agst Msian transsexuals? The inaction fm Msian police!’and '13 victims & 6 police reports, still no action fm police? Are police condoning violence on trans?’
In response to questions like this Pahang CID chief senior Assistant Commissioner T. Narenasegaran told The Star transsexuals would be given protection like any other Malaysian. 'To say that transsexuals have less rights is unacceptable. They did not ask to be born like that,' he said.
Homophobia is part of the establishment in Malaysia. When leader of the opposition Anwar Ibrahim, who was acquitted of sodomy charges in January, suggested in a BBC interview that Malaysia’s homosexuality laws were ’archaic’ politicians lashed out in response. Ahmad Maslan, information chief for Barisan Nasional, the political coalition that holds power in Malaysia, said: 'We cannot support or condone same sex relationships as it is the same as making incest legal.' Anwar later denied that he had said anything in favour of gay rights.