Malaysia: Three transgender women win landmark appeal to scrap ban on ‘cross-dressing’

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Three transgender women in Malaysia have won their case against an Islamic law that prohibits “cross-dressing.”

JakartaGlobe reports the Malaysian Court of Appeal on Friday said the law against cross-dressing by Muslim men breached the constitution and did not properly factor the lives of transgender women.

Because Malaysian citizens are by law Muslim, they are subject to Islamic law under the double-track legal system.

“Men dressing or acting as women” could face up to three years in jail, while some states also ban “women dressing as men.”

Appeals court Judge Mohamad Yunus said the “degrading, oppressive and inhumane” law discriminated against people who are transgender.

Aston Paiva, the lawyer for the petitioners, said: “This is a landmark decision. It is historic. The state law is still there and they can still continue to make arrests, but you can now go to the high court and challenge this,”

Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

Same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in the country.

Human Rights Watch has strongly demanded an end to the prosecution of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was sentenced to five years in jail on sodomy charges.