Hopes for SIS after ruling on transgender
Lin KayKay | Nov 8, 14 8:28am
It is SIS’s right to examine the process by which the fatwa against them was gazetted and whether or not it was in line with the Federal Constitution.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has expressed cautious optimism over the Sisters in Islam (SIS), an NGO, taking religious authorities in Selangor to Court for declaring it a deviant group.
The CIJ’s statement comes in the wake of the Court of Appeal declaring on Fri that a Negri Sembilan religious enactment on transgender, making it “an offence for men to dress and behave like women”, was unconstitutional.
“The Court of Appeal has affirmed that the Negri Sembilan religious enactment violates Articles 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the Federal Constitution on the right to life and liberty, equality, freedom of movement and freedom of expression,” said CIJ directors, Sonia Randhawa and Jac Kee, in a statement.
“This decision affirms the constitution’s position as the supreme law of the land.”
They pointed out that Article 4(1) of the constitution states that any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with the constitution shall be void, to the extent of the inconsistency.
“Likewise, it is SIS’s right to request the Court to examine the process by which the fatwa against them was gazetted and whether or not it was in line with the protections guaranteed by the constitution,” said the duo. “Fatwas have the force of law only if their provisions conform with the constitution.”
If provisions in fatwas restrict freedom of expression or other fundamental liberties in ways which are overly broad and are difficult to define, they argued, “these provisions can be examined by the Court with regard to their constitutionality”.
The Selangor religious fatwa against SIS, in the opinion of CIJ, “impacts on its freedom of expression and association and on the legality of their dealings”.
“It is only right for SIS to seek to review the process by which the fatwa was issued, and for their views to be heard on the matter,” stressed the CIJ statement.
The fatwa in question against SIS does not define liberalism and religious pluralism, the alleged deviant acts, in declaring the NGO deviant and this may be tantamount to stifling freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. SIS has stressed that they would challenge the process of gazetting the fatwa, not the fatwa itself.
SIS is going to court on the grounds that it was not consulted, as required, before the fatwa, Pemikiran Liberalisme dan Pluralisme Agama, (Thinking Liberalism and Pluralism in Religion) against them was gazetted on July 31.
The Selangor Mufti, under the fatwa, also wants the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to monitor the social media for “liberalism and religious pluralism”.
It also calls for any publication promoting such values to be seized and banned.
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