Four charged with brutal murder of trans woman in Malaysia

A photo of the four suspects in the murder of a trans woman in Pahang, Malaysia in December 2018

Four people could face the death penalty after being charged with murdering a trans woman in Bukit Tinggi, Malaysia.

The 32-year-old trans victim, who came from Sabah on Borneo island, died on December 13. She was found brutally beaten with a blunt object, according to the New Strait Times.

Her autopsy showed 32 separate injuries on her body, including a cracked skull and internal haemorrhaging in the brain.

Police have reported that the attack took place after accusations that the victim stole one of the suspects’ mobile phones in November.

On Monday (December 24) at Klang Magistrate’s Court in Selangor state, 21-year-old Low Shi Haur, 19-year-old Tan Khim Siang and two boys aged 16 and 17 were charged under Section 302 in the Penal Code.

The four charged people are led through the Magistrate's Court in Selangor, Malaysia

If convicted of the trans woman’s murder, the charged people could face the death penalty (NST Online/youtube)

This means the accused will be sentenced to either life in prison or death if found guilty.

The four nodded in understanding as the charges were read out. None of them entered a plea.

Another suspect, who is still at large, was charged in absentia, and the case was adjourned until January 30.

Malaysia is dangerous for LGBT+ people

Queer folk in Malaysia have long been the target of hate, discrimination and attacks.

The director of the Islamic Religious Department in the state where the trans woman was killed, Pahang, said in September that his region could adopt caning as a punishment for gay sex.

Mohamad Noor Abdul Rani welcomed the six lashings given to two women in the northeastern state of Terengganu days earlier for engaging in lesbian sex, adding: “We support [the caning sentence] as it shows the beauty of Islam.”

“Anyone who has gay sex will eventually incur the wrath and anger of Allah”

— Mohamad Noor Abdul Rani

He said Pahang didn’t currently use the punishment, but promised he and other religious officials “will look into it.”

Rani, whose state is larger than Terengganu and home to 1.6 million people, warned that anyone who has gay sex will eventually “incur the wrath and anger of Allah.”

In Selangor, where the four suspects were charged with murdering the trans woman, the Islamic Religious Department has stated that LGBT+ people are responsible for natural disasters.

In October, the religious authority, which is responsible for enforcing Islamic law in the state, distributed a sermon saying that catastrophes like the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami—which killed more than 2,000 people earlier this year—were brought on by queer folks’ “vices and sins.”

And in August, government minister Mahfuz Omar said allowing people to be openly trans would cause “chaos,” adding that “a person needs to realise their original birth [gender].”

Gay sex is banned across Malaysia, which groups it together with bestiality in a list of offences which are “against the order of nature.”