G25's take on the manhunt for Nur Sajat ― G25

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SEPTEMBER 23 ― G25 notes with concern the hysterical attitude of the Malaysian government towards Nur Sajat for being a transgender and dressing as a woman to openly display her good looks and exerting her fundamental rights.

The authorities are becoming paranoid that Nur Sajat may be an inspiration for other transgenders to assert their human rights to be what they were born into.

The authorities are not respecting the fundamental rights of Nur Sajat and other transgenders guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

Now that Nur Sajat has escaped to Bangkok and is applying to seek refuge in Australia, Malaysia will get into world news again as a country that has its own standards of human rights and justice as dictated by the Islamic authorities, and not based on universal values of individual freedoms and human dignity.

Recent calls in Parliament to subject LGBT individuals to conversion therapy which aims to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity are not only not unethical but are also potentially harmful.

Existing discriminatory laws, attitudes and practices towards the LGBT community can potentially put their lives in danger by inciting harmful acts and even violence towards them. In recent years, Malaysia has attracted much negative press internationally due to its treatment of LGBT persons at a time when the country is also embracing the importance of conforming and adhering to global ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards to attract foreign investments.

Respecting gender diversity and human rights are key factors within the principles of ESG.

Based on media reports, G25 understands that Nur Sajat is charged under section 10(a) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 for cross-dressing as a woman at a religious function and therefore, supposedly, ‘(a) insults or brings into contempt the religion of Islam.’

G25 respectfully urge the Selangor Islamic religious authority to consider withdrawing the charge against Nur Sajat as under section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment the act of cross-dressing by itself (cross-dressing per se) is not an offence.

Cross-dressing would only be an offence if the cross-dressing is for an immoral purpose. This means that the mere act of cross-dressing by a transgender person is permitted.

By so providing, s. 30 of the Enactment is fair and just. The section respects the right of cross-gender persons to cross-dress. In the case of Nur Sajat, being a transgender, the act of cross-dressing is not for an immoral purpose.

Therefore, with respect to the religious authority, in the light of s.30, it was inappropriate for Nur Sajat to have been charged under section 10(a) of the Enactment.

Malaysian cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat. — Picture via Instagram/Nur Sajat
Malaysian cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat. — Picture via Instagram/Nur Sajat

From the beginning, G25’s stance has been consistent when it comes to the application of Islamic laws in this country.

In our very first open letter on December 7, 2014, we stated, among others, that religious bodies seemed to be asserting authority in ways which undermine the country’s commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law, which in turn was affecting the peace and stability of our nation.

G25 still believes that the Syariah Criminal Offences (SCO) laws of Malaysia, which turn all manner of “sins” into crimes against the state have led to confusion and dispute in both substance and implementation.

They conflict with Islamic legal principles and constitute a violation of fundamental liberties and state intrusion into the private lives of citizens.

Malaysia, as a multiracial, multicultural country cannot allow itself to be held hostage to the strict interpretation of Islamic doctrines if we are going to become a fully developed country, as envisaged in the government’s development planning policies.

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

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