Malaysian state bans cross-dressing: The Islamic state of Pahang in Malaysia has made cross-dressing a criminal offence punishable by jail, said news reports on Friday.
Any Muslim caught dressed as the opposite sex can face up to one year in jail and a fine up to 1,000 ringgit (US$304) under an amendment to the Sharia Criminal Offences Enactment, which has been in force since December 1, according to a report in the Harian Metro daily.
“Before, we could only arrest them and advise them to change, but this has not brought any results,” said Pahang state Islamic Religious Council Deputy President Wan Wahid Wan Hassan, according to reports. “Instead the phenomenon has become widespread,’ he noted.’
“After this, a jail term or a fine or both can be imposed if they are convicted,” he added.
The law, however, only applies to Muslims in Pahang state, where local authorities apply a degree of sharia law, said reports.
The new law came about as a result of a major review of the sharia enactment, which also included new sections on defiance of the sultan and religious agencies, according to the Bernama official news agency.
Islamic authorities have decreed a national prohibition, or fatwa, ruling masculine dress on women to be forbidden, but no national law exists to this effect.
A prominent local gay activist, Pang Khee Teik, was not happy with the ruling in Pahang.
“Leave the Mak Nyahs (transvestites) and pengkids (tomboys) alone,” he said on his Facebook. “This is Malaysia where unkindness is law, where we kick those who are already down,” he noted.