Malaysia transgenders win landmark court case

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Three transgender people won their landmark bid to overturn an Islamic anti cross-dressing law in Malaysia on Friday.

A three-judge appeals court panel ruled that a state provision barring Muslim men from dressing as women was unconstitutional, saying it “deprives the appellants of the right to live with dignity”.

"It has the effect of denying the appellants and other sufferers of GID (gender identify disorder) to move freely in public places... This is degrading, oppressive and inhuman," said judge Hishamudin Yunus.

The verdict overturns a 2012 lower court ruling, which had dismissed the challenge by the three appellants over their arrest four years ago under the law in southern Negeri Sembilan state.

The trio are Muslims who were born male but identify as women.


Under state Islamic laws, men dressing or acting as women is punishable by up to three years in jail. Some Malaysian states also outlaw cross-dressing by women.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Aston Paiva​ said the ruling could be used to challenge any arrest of transgender people throughout Malaysia.

"It’s quite historic... This will be a precedent... This court binds all other high courts," said the lawyer.

The case is the first attempt to overturn the prohibition on cross-dressing in Malaysia.

Mr Boris Dittrich of Human Rights Watch said after the verdict: "This is a significant victory for transgender people in Malaysia. They now have the right to cross-dress and express themselves as the persons they want to be."

Source: AFP