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Court Denies Five Religious Authorities’ Appeal Against Cross-Dressing Rule

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PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has allowed the Negri Sembilan state government leave to appeal against a ruling that deemed criminalising cross-dressing as unconstitutional.

The panel lead by Court of Appeal president Justice Md Raus Sharif allowed one question of law: on whether Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negri Sembilan) Enactment 1992 contravened Articles 5(1), 8(1), 8(2), 9(2), 10(1)(a) of the Federal constitution.

The five-member panel also included Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum and Justices Suriyadi Halim Omar, Mohamed Apandi Ali and Zaharah Ibrahim.

The Negri Sembilan government had sought leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to declare Section 66 null and void.

When attempting to appeal to the Federal Court in a civil matter, applicants must first obtain leave to appeal.

Four other parties – the Negri Sembilan Islamic Affairs department, its director, the state’s Syariah enforcement chief, and prosecution chief – were also among the applicants in the appeal.

The Court of Appeal lead by Justice Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus had on Nov 7 last year, ruled that criminalising cross-dressing for Muslims was an unreasonable restriction of individuals’ freedom of expression.

This reversed the Seremban High Court’s decision on Oct 11, 2012 to dismiss a judicial review by three transgenders against the Syariah Enactment.

The applicants – Muhamad Juzaili Mohd Khamis, 26, Shukor Jani, 28, and Wan Fairol Wan Ismail, 30 – also sought a court order to prohibit their arrest and prosecution under the section.

Currently, Section 66 allows the Syariah Court to punish any man who dresses or poses as a woman with up to six months in prison or be fined a maximum RM1,000; regardless if they had Gender Identity Disorder (GID).-The Star

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