Amnesty International Malaysia says Putrajaya’s religious education for transgenders harmful, should be outlawed

Jerry Choong
·2-min read
Amnesty International Malaysia interim executive director Preethi Bhardwaj said that being transgender “is not a crime”, in response to the full licence given to Jawi by Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri (pic) to arrest and “educate” the community. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Amnesty International Malaysia interim executive director Preethi Bhardwaj said that being transgender “is not a crime”, in response to the full licence given to Jawi by Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri (pic) to arrest and “educate” the community. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — The Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International today urged the government to stop persecuting transgenders by forcing religious indoctrination on them in order to make them “return to the right path”.

Amnesty International Malaysia interim executive director Preethi Bhardwaj said that being transgender “is not a crime”, in response to the “full licence” given to Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) by Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad to arrest and “educate” the community.

“Yet the government has gone to terrible lengths to vilify transgender people by subjecting them to threats and criminalisation,” Preethi said in a statement.

She claimed transgenders in Malaysia have faced relentless discrimination and persecution from conservative movements, religious authorities and the government resulting in countless human rights violations against them. 

Preethi criticised Zulkifli’s religious education plan for transgenders as indoctrination, which she said is conversion therapy and harmful to the person as it could lead to suicidal tendencies.

“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,” she said.

She urged the government to repeal repressive laws against people of different gender and sexual orientations and instead enact policies that protect them against intolerance.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Zulkifli said Jawi is allowed to arrest transgenders and provide them with religious education.

“We do not want to just arrest them, but what is most important is tarbiah (educate) them wisely so that they will come back to the right path.

“Islam is a religion that seeks to educate. This requires coordinated efforts from all agencies under the religious affairs department in the prime minister’s department,” Zulkilfi wrote.

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