The Malaysian Bar is concerned by the recent report that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, has given “full licence” to the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) to act against transgender persons.
While the minister has stated that the order is not just about arrest but also to provide religious education, so that the transgender community will return to the right path, the Malaysian Bar is concerned that his statement may create fear of repercussion among the transgender community.
As resolved in its 2005 annual general meeting, the Malaysian Bar acknowledges the inherent dignity and equality of all human persons, irrespective of ethnicity, race, religious belief, colour, gender or language.
Transgender persons are Malaysians who deserve equal protection under Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution and with rights acknowledged under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or other international instruments.
The minister had, in the past, as the Federal Territories mufti, engaged the transgender community on many occasions to listen to the challenges faced by them.
Given his previous engagement with the transgender community, the Malaysian Bar calls upon the minister to reflect on his statement and to consider reviewing his instructions to the religious authorities.
Salim Bashir is president of the Malaysian Bar
This piece dated 13 July 2020 is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.