Transgender Malaysians are our heroes; stop persecuting our heroes — Seksualiti Merdeka

APRIL 7 — Seksualiti Merdeka calls for Malaysian authorities to cease the inhumane treatment of the transgender community and to engage them in dialogue instead.

The JAWI raid on the April 3rd fundraising event is a clear violation of privacy and the rights of Malaysians. Footage of the traumatic event clearly showed the mental and emotional abuse suffered by the attendees, with the media invited to further humiliate those present. Glaringly, it also showed the lack of a legal warrant. These are violations of the constitutional rights and freedoms of transgender Malaysians.

All Malaysians, including our transgender brothers and sisters, are protected by the Federal Constitution under Articles 5, 8, 9, and 10, which provide for their right to live with dignity, equal protection before the law, freedom of movement, and freedom of speech, assembly and association.

We believe the continued use of Islam as a reason to impose moral policing and justify selective persecution is a misuse and abuse of the religion. Islam is not about cruelty, punishment or humiliation. It is a religion of peace, justice, and compassion. In their attempts to protect one another and their acts of kindness to others, members of the trans community have often demonstrated these principles beautifully.

In fact, this fundraising dinner was such an occasion when the transgender community came together in an act of solidarity and charity. Its aim was to raise funds for NGOs dedicated to improving the lives of many including transgenders. The fact that trans people could reach out and help one another demonstrate that they have more humanity than those who bully and persecute them.

This is why Nisha Ayub, a trans woman activist, was honoured with the 2016 International Women Of Courage Award by the US government. In stark contrast to what continues to happen in this country, such a recognition is a welcome sign that trans people are finally carving their space in public life and politics.

The transgender community is not fighting religion, culture or society. They are fighting for their very lives. They are fighting for a right to a life with dignity -- the right that is denied to them every time they are arrested for being who they are, every time their events are raided and harassed, every time they are denied employment, every time they are denied legal recourse when they are wronged.

Cease the harassments and mistreatments of the transgender community. Respect their rights and give them the space to carry out their events, tell their stories, and mobilise their support. Let them inspire us. Let them transform our society into a more humane one.

For showing courage, compassion and confidence in the face of institutionalised persecution and social prejudice, the transgender community truly makes us proud to be Malaysians. Transgender Malaysians are our heroes. Stop persecuting our heroes.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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