The G25 group has spoken out about the recent news of local authorities seeking the extradition of cosmetic businessperson Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman after the latter was arrested in Thailand for using an invalid passport.
She was charged with dressing as a woman at a religious event and has a warrant out for her after she skipped a Syariah High Court hearing.
“G25 notes with concern the hysterical attitude of the Malaysian government towards 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 Sajat may be an inspiration for other transgenders to assert their human rights to be what they were born into,” the group said in a statement today.
G25 accused the government of disrespecting the fundamental rights of Sajat and other transgenders which are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
The group also argued that the charge made against Sajat was unfounded as the act of cross-dressing is not an offence of Syariah law unless it was done for an immoral purpose.
Sajat was charged under section 10(a) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 for cross-dressing as a woman at a religious function.
G25 said Section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment provided the mere act of cross-dressing is not an offence.
“The section respects the right of cross-gender persons to cross-dress. In the case of Sajat, being a transgender, the act of cross-dressing is not for an immoral purpose,” G25 said.
The group urged the Selangor Islamic religious authority to consider withdrawing the charge against Sajat.
Religious enforcements undermine democratic principles
Meanwhile, G25 also criticised recent calls in Parliament to subject lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals to conversion therapy, saying it is unethical and potentially harmful.
It added that existing discriminatory laws, attitudes and practices towards the LGBT community in the country can potentially put their lives in danger by inciting harmful acts and even violence towards them.
The group reiterated its long-standing scepticism towards the application of Islamic laws in the country.
“In our very first open letter on Dec 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,” it said.
The group believes that SCO laws conflict with Islamic legal principles and violate fundamental liberties, as well as allowing state intrusion into citizens’ private lives.
“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,” G25 added.
On Monday, Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Abd Jalil Hassan said Sajat was arrested on Sept 8 by immigration authorities in Thailand.
She was soon released by a Thai court after she paid a fine. Thailand is still considering whether to deport Sajat.
Media reported that Sajat, who is currently still in Bangkok, had applied for refugee status from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and is eyeing to move to Australia. – Malaysiakini