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Asia’s LGBTI ‘hero of the year’ attacked in Malaysia

Asia’s LGBTI ‘hero of the year’ attacked in Malaysia

Nisha Ayub.

A prominent transgender activist was assaulted in Malaysia last week by two men with iron rods.

Nisha Ayub was named Hero of the Year at this year’s Asia LGBT Milestone Awards and was a 2015 recipient of Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.

Ayub described Thursday’s (10 September) attack on Facebook.

‘First time in my life, I have been attacked by 2 indian guys just below my house,’ she wrote.

It was a shocking moment for me. They use iron rod, hit my head. I fell and hurt my ankle, a slash on my leg. It was a horrific moment for me. Lucky my mum that always look from the window when I go to work saw everything and bcs of her screaming, they ran away.’

Ten years ago, Ayub was sentenced to three months in a male prison under an Islamic anti-crossdressing law. Since her release, she has tirelessly advocated for transgender rights in the Muslim-majority country.

A few days after the attack, she added: ‘I’m repeating what I said before, u can put me in jail, u can hurt me, u can even kill me but u can never take away my identity as a transgender woman. My work as an advocate will never stop until my last breath.’

The attack comes days after tourism minister Nazri Aziz said LGBTI Malaysians would never be granted equal rights ‘because it is not allowed in Islam.’

Human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemned the attack and the minister’s comments.

‘The harm suffered by Nisha should stand as a reminder of the dangers and harassment LGBT activists and communities face in Malaysia. Irrespective of whether we agree or disagree with the ideals of another, as Malaysian, we must never fall to violence as a mean to express our disagreements,’ it said in a statement.

‘In such dark times where some quarters think such acts as acceptable, we must stand in solidarity with our friends and stand fast against such act of violence.’

The group added: ‘Unless the minister wish to be perceived as supporting such deplorable acts in Malaysia, we would advise the minister to retract his stance on the matter.’