Sunday, 9 November 2014

We just want to be treated equally - transgender activist, Nisha

Transgender activist, Nisha Ayub (R) greets her colleague outside the court of appeals in Putrajaya on November 7, 2014.

KUALA LUMPUR: Fear, discrimination and imprisonment - these are the harsh social realities that transgender women in the country have to tolerate each time they step out of their homes.

The recent news that the Court of Appeal struck down a state law that forbids Muslim men from dressing up as women -- citing it as unconstitutional -- came as a pleasant surprise for the transgender community in Malaysia.

“I'm happy and thankful with the judgment,” said Justice For Sisters advocacy manager Nisha Ayub.

Gone are the days, said Nisha that transgenders in the country had to live in fear.

“We were discriminated for years when it comes to education, job and healthcare. We haven’t been given equal rights.”

Nisha, in a phone interview with Astro AWANI said that the transgender community seeks for equality – to be honoured the same rights as any other citizens of Malaysia.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, the ruling is a victory for us but we have to do much more to move forward. We are not asking for special treatment, all we ask for is to be treated as equal citizens,” said Nisha, who has been advocating for gender rights since 2006.

On Friday, a three-man panel led by Justice Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus ruled that Section 66 of the of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment 1992 violated Articles 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the Federal Constitution.

The ruling comes on the heels of an appeal sought by three Muslim transgenders to have Section 66 declared unconstitutional.

They claimed the provision violates their constitutional right to freedom of expression, movement and their right to live in dignity which the court ruled in favour.

“The appellants are part of the society, living normal life. They did not harm anyone nor did anything bad. For them to be sent to prison just because of their identities is a violation of their rights as Malaysian citizens based on the Federal Constitution,” Nisha added.

The ruling has triggered an outcry, among Muslim groups, calling for the decision to be challenged.

“We have been informed by our lawyers that this could happen. And if it does, we will appeal the case again at the high court. We have prepared all the documents and statements. We will fight to the end.”

In an earlier interview with Rozz Ritzman, the transgender club performing said decision is laudable and comes as 'shield' of sorts in safeguarding transgender women from harassment.

- Source: Astro Awani

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