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Individuals and Human Rights Groups Rebuke Dr Zulkifli’s Transphobic Statement

By Queer Lapis

A number of key people and organisations have spoken up against Religious Affairs Minister Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri’s statement that encouraged JAWI authorities to target transgender people. He added that besides arresting them, it was important to “educate” (tarbiah) them so that they could “return to the right path”.

Nisha Ayub

“As we were all just trying to recover back to our daily lives trying our best to overcome the current economical situation due to Covid Pandemic, now the Transgender community are again being targeted just because of our gender identity and expression… We are just trying to survive in this binary system where we have to face so many obstacles and oppression just because we are different from the norms of social construct… Why are we constantly being targeted ?”

[Link to full statements 1 and 2]

Justice for Sisters

“His statement will increase discrimination, violence and mistreatment of transgender women with impunity by enforcement officers of the Islamic Departments as well as members of the public. We are already observing questions and concerns over personal security, safety and well-being by transgender persons across the country since the release of the statement.”

Regarding conversion therapy,

“…it is important to note that these individuals’ decisions to change are often made in order to access opportunities, services, and simply to be tolerated in society. Given the discrimination, violence and marginalization that they faced throughout their lives, some transgender people cannot imagine they could be accepted without condition and therefore subject themselves to society’s conditions just to get by.”

[Full statement: What Trans People Need Is the License to Be Respected as Human]

[BM translation: Apa Yang Diperlukan Oleh Golongan Transgender Adalah Lesen Untuk Dihormati Sebagai Manusia]

Ambiga Sreenevasan and International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
Image by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Ambiga Sreenavasan, the Commissioner of the ICJ said:

This unacceptable transphobic and homophobic attack from a government official highlights the societal prejudices and the lack of legal protections against discrimination faced by transgender persons in Malaysia…

[Full statement: Malaysia: Minister’s order to take action against the transgender community must be revoked]
Amnesty International Malaysia

Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of AI Malaysia said:

“Religious indoctrination in order to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is conversion therapy. Amnesty International opposes all forms of conversion therapy; it causes great psychological distress and harm to the recipient, even suicidal ideations, and should be outlawed.”

[Full statement: Government must end persecution of transgender people]

Galen Centre

Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of Galen Centre said:

“The Minister’s provision of a “full licence” sends a terrible signal which may cause an escalation of harmful and discriminating actions, both institutional and vigilantism, against the transgender community. He should consider withdrawing his statement.”

Mitch Yusof, senior fellow spoke on Dr Zulkifi’s more compassionate position in the past:

His main message then was that people should not condemn, judge or punish the community, but rather to find a common ground. Now, he is calling for their “tangkap” or arrest. What happened?

[Full statement: Minister’s “Full Licence” Increases Vulnerability And Risk Of Harm Towards Transgender Community]

Sisters In Islam

Islam teaches us to be kind and compassionate to everyone and not to discriminate, shame or act violently, regardless of their backgrounds, gender or identities.

[Full statement: Show Compassion Regardless of Gender Identities]