Transsexuals lose challenge to overturn Negeri Sembilan Syariah law

Lawyer Aston Paiva speaking to the media after the hearing.

Under the watch of international media and human rights activists and NGOs,  the Seremban High Court dismissed an attempt by four Muslims transsexuals to overturn the Islamic Sharia law in Negeri Sembilan today.

Represented by Aston Paiva, the four- Adam Shazrul Yusoff, 25, Wan Fairol Wan Ismail, 27, Juzaili Khamis, 24 and Shukor Jani, 25- challenged the state’s interpretation of Sharia law of infringing on their human rights as protected in the Malaysian constitution.

All the litigants were arrested under Section 66 of the Sharia Criminal Act which prohibits Muslim men from dressing, posing and behaving like women.

Juzaili and Shukor are facing charges in breaching the Act, which upon conviction will result in a maximum fine of RM1000 and up to six months in jail.

Justice Siti Mariah Ahmad said that as the applicants profess an Islamic identity, the Sharia law is applicable to the applicants and that the liberties as enshrined in the Constitution “is not absolute” in this case.

According to Aston Paiva, the judge had relied rather extensively on the views given by of the mufti of the state of Negeri Sembilan, noting that she provided an explanation of the views of Islam on transsexuals when reading the verdict.

The judge stressed that cross dressing in both sexes not approved Islam and commented negatively on the prevalence of gay and lesbian culture in today’s society.

Justice Siti Mariah also recognised and thanked the involvement of the NGOs and volunteers that assisted in the debriefing of this case, and requested PT foundation to work with the local Islamic authorities to provide counselling to transsexual individuals in the state.

Recognising that Adam Shazrul Yusoff, Wan Fairol Wan Ismail, Juzaili Khamis, and Shukor Janial are suffering from Gender Identity Disorder, she also stated the need for the authorities to be more prudent when dealing with such individuals.

Paiva stated that he is planning to advice the individuals to appeal the decision.

Human rights advocates Thilaga Sulathireh, Angela Kuga Thas, Bar Council observer Siti Zabedah Kasim and representatives from PT Foundation who were at the courthouse yesterday were visibly distraught over the ruling and echoed Paiva’s remarks on convincing the transsexuals to appeal the court’s ruling.