A religious leader in Malaysia urged the country’s Muslims to treat trans women as males in a Facebook post on Tuesday (29 January).
Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin said ‘there are only two recognised genders,’ according to the Malay Mail.
‘There is not a third’ he wrote. ‘Religion prohibits this invented gender named “mak nyah”’ he wrote, using the Malay term for a trans woman.
Since Malaysia’s new government took power in May year, LGBTI residents have faced a conservative backlash.
A gang of men beat a trans woman to death in December last year.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister, meanwhile, has said Malaysia ‘cannot accept’ LGBTI rights. He labeled them ‘Western’ values.
The mufti said accepting transgender people would give men an excuse to hurt women. He also claimed that recognising transgenders will desensitize the public when a trans woman attacks a woman.
‘Wearing women’s clothes and acting like women do not change the fact that they are men,’ he claimed.
Outspoken lawyer and rights activist, Siti Kasim, accused the mufti of ‘vilifying transwomen’.
‘Where’s the voice of Maza when the so-called real men rape, molested, sexually harassed, wife beaters etc commit crimes against women?’ Kasim asked on Twitter.
Where’s the voice of Maza when the so called real men rape, molested, sexually harassed, wife beaters etc commit crimes against women?
It’s easy to pick on isolated cases and start to vilify and condemn the trans isn’t it?… https://t.co/0PTNPcfFBL
— Siti Kasim (@sitikasim) January 29, 2019
In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Islamic Sharia Law runs parallel to the main judiciary. It is able to rule on religious affairs to varying degrees in the country’s different states.
Gay sex, however, is illegal nationwide in Malaysia under the British colonial-era statute, Section 377A.
Activists claim trans victims of attacks are unlikely to see justice.