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Trans sex workers need to be guided back to ‘right path’, says Malaysian politician

Patrick Kelleher July 30, 2018

Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images)

A Malaysian politician has said that the government needs to do more to help trans people leave the sex industry.

Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the Minister in charge of Islamic affairs, cited figures from the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), which suggests that 80% of transgender people work in the sex industry in the country.

Mujahid said he wanted to help them return to the “right path”, according to Free Malaysia Today.

Malaysian transgender woman Nisha Ayub gestures during an interview with AFP at SEED Foundation – an NGO she runs in Kuala Lumpur.
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

“To solve this problem, we have to get them out of the industry first and this will not happen until we are more open to help and guide them… that’s more important than the dressing issue and others,” he said.

“We want them to be more independent by offering them education and business opportunities in hopes of helping them solve any problems they may be facing.”

He said that the government will organise campaigns, seminars and camps to reach out to the LGBT+ community.

The news comes just weeks after he pledged to listen to the country’s LGBT+ people, however he also said that his intention to listen should not be construed as support.

“All people are free to come here to discuss with me, dialogue opens the door for understanding but this does not mean I submit to their theories or support their ideas,” he told the Malay Mail.

He said that the LGBT+ community’s rights are protected by the country’s constitution, but stressed that there are aspects of their beliefs and practices that may not be acceptable to Muslims.

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

The LGBT+ community in Malaysia continues to face various challenges. A Human Rights Watch report from 2015 said that discrimination against members of the community was “pervasive”.

Malaysia retains a criminal ban on some sexual acts, and also has state-level Sharia laws that prohibits cross-dressing.

Transgender people in Malaysia can face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, denial of healthcare and employment and other abuses.

A challenge to the ban on cross-dressing was defeated in 2015 by Malaysia’s highest court.

More: Asia, Malaysia, Malaysia, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, trans sex workers

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