Malaysian minister sparks outrage after targeting transgender people for arrest

WION Web Team
Malaysia Updated: Jul 17, 2020, 10:55 AM(IST)

Malaysia's Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The announcement prompted an outcry from activists, who pointed out that in just four months since coming to power the Perikatan Nasional coalition had already clamped down on union members and journalists and banned a book on the 2018 general election in which the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan, toppled the Barisan Nasional after 61 years.

Malaysia's Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad has sparked outrage after introducing a proposal to arrest and “educate” transgender people.

The announcement prompted an outcry from activists, who pointed out that in just four months since coming to power the Perikatan Nasional coalition had already clamped down on union members and journalists and banned a book on the 2018 general election in which the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan, toppled the Barisan Nasional after 61 years.

The proposal is bound to deliver another blow to the already shaky human rights records of the government.

Also read: US sanctions Malaysia's surgical glove maker over forced labour amid coronavirus pandemic

Earlier, Zulkifli said he had given ''full license to Islamic authorities to ensure transgender people came back to the right path''.

In a Facebook post, he said ''Islam is a religion that wants to educate. We will work towards coordinated efforts from all agencies under the religious affairs wing in the prime minister’s department''.

According to Mitch Yusmar Yusof, executive director of the trans-led community organisation Seed Foundation.This will encourage vigilante violence. We saw this happen during the Barisan Nasional government and no action was taken then''.

“We know what this is all about – it’s about power. Identify the easiest scapegoat or target, make a statement, gaining public trust and votes. We have become their punching bags too many times, we know when the threat is serious.''

The LGBT community has been a popular target for Malaysian politicians attempting to shore up support from the conservative vote bank because the country's Islamic laws prohibit homosexuality while its secular laws criminalise “unnatural” sex. Corporal punishment for same-sex sexual relationsi is allowed as per state-level laws while conversion therapy – including religious counselling – is commonplace.

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