KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Banning transgender persons from entering mosques impedes on their rights and personal liberties as enshrined under the Federal Constitution, said women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS).
In a statement today, SIS also stated that the ruling by the Perlis state religious authorities to ban transgender persons or “mukhannats” from entering mosques along with several other state religious authorities to emulate such decisions, is not justified as there is no appropriate context within Islamic teachings for such actions.
“There is no evidence from the Quran and Hadith that forbids a mukhannats from entering the mosque,” it said, referring to the Islamic scriptures.
“Therefore, the fatwa and statement of the mufti not only contradicts the Federal Constitution but in fact not in accordance with inclusive Islamic traditions.”
Referring to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) report on discrimination against transgender persons in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor in 2019, SIS reiterated that the community faces discrimination in terms of employment, education, access to health treatment, harassment, violence and abuse by the general public.
However, SIS stated that the situation for the community would further worsen with the fatwa and recent statements issued by religious authorities supporting it.
“We once again hope that the muftis do not extend beyond their jurisdiction and respect the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land that guarantees not only the right of its citizenship but anyone else not to be discriminated against.
“The Federal and State Governments also have constitutional duties to protect and ensure that there are no laws and government policies that oppress and oppress anyone, including transgender people,’’ said the statement.
Following the decision made by the Perlis state religious authorities, with the fatwa announced by Perlis mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, other religious figures such as Penang mufti, Datuk Seri Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor also stated that transgender persons must change their appearance to be gender appropriate before they are allowed in mosques.
As further reference, SIS stated that the fatwa and supporting statements go against Article 5 of the Federal Constitution which details that no person may be deprived of life or personal liberty except in accordance with the law.
The ruling also goes against Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Federal Constitution, said SIS.
“The government should view seriously the violations and denial of rights efforts committed by religious institutions, an institution funded by public funds including transgender people who also contribute equally and build this country that we love.
“Any attempt to deny rights of the people is a subversive effort and an insult to the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of Malaysia,’’ said the statement.
SIS also stated that transgender persons is also recognised within Islamic traditions and even Muslim majority countries like Pakistan have taken steps to recognise transgender rights when the Islamic Republic have enacted and approved The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, which recognises and protects transgender people from any form of discrimination.