The Federal Court has given the Negeri Sembilan state government permission to appeal an earlier Federal Court of Appeals ruling that makes cross dressing legal in the state. However, the court is limiting arguments to constitutional ones, rejecting interventions from the Islamic State Councils of Selangor, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpus, Penang, Johor and Perak, as well as UMNO (the malay front of the ruling coalition led by the prime minister).
In the January 27 leave hearing, the panel of five judges told the Negeri Sembilan state lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, that the case should address fundamental constitutional arguments – the question of whether section 66 contravenes articles 5, 8(1), 8 (2), 9 and 10 of the Federal Constitution – rather than addressing the question of whether the Appellate Court has jurisdiction over Shariah law.
Justice for Sisters welcome the constitutional approach mandated by the Federal Court.
Nisha Ayub, Advocacy and Community Engagement Coordinator for Justice For Sisters says: “Our gender identity is one of our fundamental human rights, and the state is duty bound to promote and protect the rights of all its citizens, including transgender persons, from discrimination and violence simply because of who we are. The state also has an obligation to end state-sanctioned violence and oppression towards its constituents, and to put an end to impunity for perpetrators of violence and oppression.”
“There must be separation of state and religion, and the state must uphold rule of law at all costs. In addition, we have to be vigilant of misuse or abuse of power, and not allow the powers that be take away our autonomy,” added Shika Corona of Justice for Sisters.
“Transgender people are often on the receiving end of hatred, intolerance and abuse, against their will. The state’s Shariah law once again attempts to undermine the respect, equality and dignity of transgender people, without concern for those citizens who are on the receiving end of the violence and discrimination. Thankfully, it seems that the Federal Court is firm on the constitutional right to dignity of all citizens, regardless of religion,” said Joe Wong, Program Manager for the Asia Pacific Transgender Network.
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