The Nation



Cross-dressing outlawed in Malaysian state

Kuala Lumpur (dpa) - An Islamic state in Malaysia has decreed cross-dressing a criminal offence punishable by jail, news reports said Friday.

Under an amendment to the Sharia Criminal Offences Enactment, in force since December 1, any Muslim caught dressed as the opposite sex faces up to one year in jail and a possible fine of 1,000 ringgit (300 dollars), the Harian Metro daily reported.

"Before, we could only arrest them and advise them to change, but this has not brought any results," Pahang state Islamic Religious Council Deputy President Wan Wahid Wan Hassan was quoted as saying."Instead the phenomenon has become widespread."

"After this, a jail term or a fine or both can be imposed if they are convicted," he said.

The law only applies to Muslims in Pahang state, where a degree of sharia law is applied by local authorities. The law was part of a major review of the sharia enactment, that also included new sections on defiance of the sultan and religiousagencies, according to the official news agency Bernama.

Islamic authorities have decreed a national fatwa, or prohibition, ruling masculine dress on women to be forbidden, but there is no national law to this effect. Pang Khee Teik, a prominent local gay activist, blasted the stateruling.

"Leave the Mak Nyahs (transvestites) and pengkids (tomboys) alone," he wrote on Facebook. "This is Malaysia where unkindness is law, where we kick those who are already down," he said.

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