The problem in this country is people push religion down the throats of others and Religion is used as a Passport to intrude a person's civil liberties, human rights & privacy!
We have a segment of society here who believe that everyone from the same religion should follow one same norm, no one is allowed to be different, be it lifestyle, opinions, dressing and sexuality.
Monday, April 18th, 2011 10:12:00
A MALE-TO-FEMALE hairstylist transsexual was allegedly ordered to remove his panties and bra in full view of Malacca Islamic religious department officials, mostly male, soon after he was handcuffed and arrested for cross-dressing.
Abdul Qawi Jamil, 28, supposedly removed his bra from under his body shirt but refused to hand over his panties, a Being Frank enquiry into gender policing by the authorities has revealed.
Qawi had earlier purportedly handed over his jeans, high heels and other accessories, as required by the department as evidence that he was a cross-dresser — an offence under Section 72 of the Malacca Syariah Offences Enactment.
He contends the screening procedure violated his dignity as he was not allowed to remove his personal effects in a private area.
Jaim, the Malacca State religious body, will have their side of the story but its notoriety in dealing with transsexuals brings to mind the 2007 case of a 44-year-old transsexual, Ayu, who was beaten and arrested while she was at a bus station with friends.
Reason: she had committed the offence of “men dressing up as women in a public space”, which was punishable with a RM1,000 fine, a six-month prison sentence or both under the same law levelled against Qawi.
Ayu had to undergo surgery and JAIM instructed the hospital to note the names of all transsexuals who visited her. In spite of encouragement from support groups to take legal action against Jaim, Ayu feared further intimidation and declined.
Qawi is pursuing his case on constitutional rights. His allegations following his arrest at a hair salon in Plaza Hang Tuah (Ocean), Jalan Tun Ali, last October, are contained in a suit against the department, its director and the Malacca government.
He is seeking relief in the Malacca High Court, arguing that although provisions in Syariah laws forbid his transsexual character, these are inconsistent with the rights of citizens enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
In his affidavit, he claimed the Islamic department had infringed on his rights as a citizen to live with dignity and privacy, to livelihood and to express through dressing.
Qawi’s case stood out among several complaints to The Malay Mail by certain groups, including transsexuals, who feared increasing vigilantism, discrimination and high-handedness among community groups and the authorities against those whose sexuality or gender identity was perceived to deviate from the ‘norm’.
The alleged incident in Malacca is a vivid spotlight on the extreme prejudice that transgender people endure in Malaysia.
To be sure, the National Fatwa Council had in 1983 issued a decree prohibiting gender-reassignment surgery as well as cross-dressing involving all Muslims.
The ban stems from an Islamic belief that it is wrong to alter that which God has given. This conviction also bars Muslims from dressing up as the opposite sex and undergoing major aesthetic surgery other than for medical reasons.
Qawi is a cross-dresser. In his affidavit, he said his problems began when a police officer asked for his identity card outside his salon on Oct 9 about 3pm.
He was wearing thin make-up, lip gloss, eye liner, mascara, body shirt, jeans and high heels.
He found it was no fun to show his IC with the name and face of a man, sexually identified as a man — but looking and dressed as a woman. Qawi was handcuffed by policemen who had accompanied the raiding party, bundled into a van and taken to the religious department where he was placed in a lock-up with other detainees including several other mak nyah (male-to-female transsexuals).
About four hours later, he was brought out to have his statement recorded and fingerprinted.
It was here that he was asked to hand over everything on him as evidence that he was a cross-dresser.
He was then ordered by the department to undergo counselling by its officers. He refused, on grounds that: such counselling was held together with other men and women and that there were no special sessions for the mak nyah community. issues involving transgender people, especially crossdressing, would become a brunt of jokes to others attending the sessions.
he was not up to anything sinister during his arrest and was merely at his workplace, earning a decent living.
I have no issues with Syariah laws that govern cross-dressing and gender-assignment surgery because in Islam, there are only men and women, there are no transsexuals.
However, like many, I am concerned over abuses against transsexuals that appear to be rising at the hands of the authorities, employers and the man-on-the-street and their denial to equal access to housing and medical treatment.
If they are “sexual deviants”, why is it we still embrace transsexuals to be the Mak Andam at weddings who trim the bride’s hair, shape her eyebrows, apply her make-up and make her look the most beautiful bride?
Short of sounding condescending, I am told some of the best hairdressers and makeup artists are transsexuals.
Celebrities rely on them, some movie makers feel lost without them as make-up artists while as boutique sales assistants they excel as well. It is society’s hypocritical rejection and discrimination against transsexuals as sexually deviant that force many to be sex workers.
There are about 20,000 transsexuals in the country and more than 60 per cent of them are involved in sex work.
Most are male-to-female transsexuals, and interestingly, too, almost 70 to 80 per cent are Malays.
In his affidavit, Qawi noted that the respondents had failed to observe the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, of which Malaysia is a signatory.
The Yogyakarta Principles outlines an array of rights that include the right to universal enjoyment of human rights; right to recognition before the law; right to privacy; protection from medical abuses; right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to found a family.
He also cited Malaysia’s re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the year 2010-2013 that, among others, committed to continue efforts to raise human rights awareness among the population including law enforcement officials, members of the judiciary, government officials and other stakeholders.
He noted that Malaysia also pledged to uphold the principles of dialogue and co-operation among all stakeholders in furthering the promotion and protection of human rights for all peoples, without distinction and discrimination of any kind.
The freedom transgender people, like Qawi, are seeking isn’t just for them. It’s for every person — gay, bi, straight, or anything else — who wants to be able to express his/her identity freely.
Transgender is simply one aspect of human diversity. It is a difference, not a disorder.
FRANKIE D’CRUZ is editor-at-large of The Malay Mail. The multiple award-winning journalist