A transgender Malaysian businesswoman’s future hangs in the balance after she was arrested for illegally entering Thailand while fleeing persecution under Islamic law in Malaysia.
Nur Sajet fled Malaysia, where she is charged with up to three years in prison and a fine for dressing as a woman during a religious event in 2018.
The owner of the transgender cosmetics company fled Malaysia earlier this year by illegally entering Thailand. She was previously arrested in September for the illegal entry and found guilty by the court, but released on bail. She would normally be deported, but human rights groups are pushing for her to stay in Thailand.
The Malaysian detectives urged Sajet to return to the country to press charges against her. They also accused her of hindering and threatening an official. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General’s office and the police are hesitant to extradite the transgender person to Malaysia for criminal charges.
A spokesman for Thailand’s foreign ministry said they were evaluating the situation and would make a decision based on Thai law and humanitarian principles. One researcher at Human Rights Watch warns that her deportation would put her at risk, stressing discrimination and ill-treatment of transgender people in Malaysia.
“The persecution in Malaysia is based on her gender identity, so there is already ample ground for her protection under international standards.”
Malaysia bans same-sex acts and has recently tightened restrictions against the LGBTQ community. A government task force recently proposed in June to change Islamic law to take action against people promoting the LGBTQ lifestyle on social media, which it sees as an insult to Islam.
Malaysia, a Muslim country, has a clear judicial system that operates on two levels, with the standard government laws alongside a separate set of Islamic laws addressing family and criminal issues applied to Muslims in the country.
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