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Transgenders lose bid to challenge dress ban

 | October 11, 2012

The High Court says that it is undisputed that the four applicants are Muslims and therefore subjected to the Syariah law that bars men from dressing in women's clothes.

PETALING JAYA: The Seremban High Court today dismissed an application by four transgender individuals to challenge the ban on Muslim men to dress and pose as women under Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment.

The four, who had been either arrested or penalised by the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Department before, were applying for a judicial review to declare Section 66 unconstitutional.

Justice Siti Mariah Ahmad, in her judgment, said that it was undisputed that the four applicants were Muslims and hence Section 66 applied to them.

According to the applicants’ lawyer Aston Paiva, Siti Mariah had relied substantially on the Islamic views given by a mufti.

“She ruled that Part 2 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees fundamental liberties to an individual, is exempted from Section 66,” he told FMT.

“She grants no order to cost, but she said the Islamic religious authorities must work with (NGO) Pt Foundation to give counseling to the transsexual community.

“She also said the Islamic authorities must act more prudently (lebih berhemah),” he added.

Paiva 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 on freedom of expression.

They also claimed that the syariah laws should not apply to them as they had been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder.

Activist Thilaga Sulathireh, who helped the four to take their case to court, said she was disappointed with the judgment.

She said the four applicants were emotional, and not available to comment on the judgment immediately.

[Photo of Adam Shazrul Mohammad Yusoff courtesy of Rahman Roslan of the International Herald Tribune]


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