(Washington, DC) – In overturning a landmark ruling, Malaysia’s highest court has undermined the rights of transgender people in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 8, 2015, the Federal Court reversed a lower court ruling that a state’s prohibition on “cross-dressing” was unconstitutional. On wholly procedural grounds, the Federal Court upheld Sharia laws prohibiting “a male person posing as a woman.”
The judicial decision is a serious setback in a four-year struggle by transgender activists to end arbitrary arrests of transgender women on the basis of discriminatory laws, Human Rights Watch said.
“This Federal Court ruling is a major setback for transgender rights,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Trans women in Malaysia, who were buoyed by the landmark lower court decision recognizing their rights to be themselves, have been let down once again.”