malaysia

Help transgenders ‘return to right path’, Jais says in Friday sermon

In its Friday sermon, Jais said that the act of imitating the opposite gender was inappropriate and prohibited in Islam. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaIn its Friday sermon, Jais said that the act of imitating the opposite gender was inappropriate and prohibited in Islam. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) urged Muslim parents and the community today to help provide guidance and support to transgenders or those it described as being  ”trapped in the wrong body” to return them to the “right path”.

In its Friday sermon, Jais said that the act of imitating the opposite gender was inappropriate and prohibited in Islam.

“The reality is that the existing phenomenon of transgender within our society cannot be allowed to become widespread.

“Today, I am hoping for cooperation from the family members, community, and NGOs to collectively provide continuous support and guidance so that they will initiate the change towards better, and also to develop a treatment and recovery programme in calling them to return to the right path,” it said.

Jais added that the Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Affairs of Malaysia had decided back in 1989 that transgenders were classified as those who had altered their physical form, gaiting and body movement, speech and voice, putting up make-up and wearing clothing of the opposite sex.

Jais said parents must advise their children to not imitate the opposite gender and provide suitable clothing for them.

“What is even alarming is that this minority group is becoming more active in establishing associations and demanding their rights according to the law so as to justify their actions.

“Furthermore, they are fighting for equality without hindrances in carrying out their lives just like normal people, especially the rights for freedom and marriage,” it said.

Muslim-majority Malaysia vehemently objects to the perceived rise in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities, which it deems to be an assault against Islam together with growing calls for greater civil liberties.

The local LGBT community remains in the shadows, particularly Muslims, fearing persecution from religious authorities in the predominantly Muslim country that has religious laws prohibiting same-sex relationships and cross-dressing.

Only a handful have stood up against the discrimination and marginalisation, most notably transgender rights activist Nisha Ayub who was also awarded for her efforts by the United States government recently.

Last July, the High Court ruled in favour of a trans man the right to change his name, sex and identity card number issued according to gender, noting he had undergone a gender-reassignment operation.

However, an appellate court reversed the ruling earlier this month following an appeal from the National Registration Department, saying the trans man was born biologically a woman.

Malaysia also has colonial-era laws that criminalise homosexual sex, among others, as carnal intercourse against the order of nature, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The law is, however, rarely used.

In the US, the New England police department formed the New England Gay Officers Action League in 1991 to support their officers who are from the LGBT community.

In 2014, the Fort Worth Police Department in Texas started rolling out videos to welcome a diverse working community into its force, targeting the LGBT community, single mothers, African-Americans as well as Hispanics and Latinos.

MORE ON MMOTV