Malaysia slammed for jailing of two trans women

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An Islamic court in Malaysia has been criticised by human rights groups for jailing two trangsgender women.

The Human Rights Watch on Monday criticised the court for fining nine women and jailing two for a month each for “cross-dressing”.

According to the Associated Press, the group of trans women were arrested in northeastern Kelantan during a raid on 16 June, and pleaded guilty the following day.

An appeal has been filed by the lawyers for the group, and the two women who were jailed have been released on bail.

“The raid is the latest incident in a pattern of arbitrary arrests and harassment of transgender women in Malaysia,” the Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“Malaysian authorities need to stop hauling transgender people into court simply because of who they are and what they wear,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The government needs to recognize that the freedom to express your gender is as fundamental as any other freedom.”

“Laws against ‘a male person posing as a woman’ not only deny transgender women in Malaysia our fundamental rights as citizens of the country, they also contribute to a hostile environment,” said Nisha Ayub, a transgender activist with the rights group Justice for Sisters.

“These laws lead people to perceive us as criminals and subject us to humiliation, hate crimes, and other forms of violence.”

Cross dressing is illegal in all but one of of Malaysia’s 14 states.