12 Oct 2012 00:00
The Malaysian High Court dismissed an application today by four transgender individuals who are challenging the ban on Muslim men dressing and posing as women, which is found under Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal Enactment.
The four, who had been either arrested or penalized by the "Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Department" before, were applying for a judicial review to declare Section 66 unconstitutional.
Justice Siti Mariah Ahmad said in her judgment that the four applicants were indisputably Muslims and were biologically born as a man, so Section 66 applied to them. She also ruled that Part 2 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees fundamental liberties to an individual, is overruled by Section 66.
Aston Paiva, the lawyer representing the four during the judicial review, said he would be advising his clients to appeal the decision.
The four applicants, Adam Shazrul Mohammad Yusoff, Mohammad Juzaili Mohammad Khamis, Shukur Jani and Wan Fairol Wan Ismail, argued that Section 66 violated the Federal Constitution's guarantee of freedom of expression. They also claimed that the "Syariah laws" should not apply to them as they had been diagnosed with "Gender Identity Disorder."
While several other Malaysians who were born male have sought to be legally declared women, this was the first legal challenge to the law that bans men from "cross-dressing" in Malaysia.