“The Deceased Can’t Speak for Herself:” Violence Against LGBT People in Malaysia

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06/26/2019

The New Year rang in little cheer for transgender women in Malaysia. On January 1, a trans woman was killed in Klang, a Kuala Lumpur suburb, the third such killing in Malaysia in fewer than two months. Her death remains under police investigation. Like so many trans women in Malaysia excluded from the formal employment sector, this woman was a sex worker. She died falling—or was possibly thrown—from a moving vehicle. The driver, presumably her client, was arrested in connection with the death. He told police she jumped from the car after stealing his mobile phone. Trans sex workers in Klang, however, are convinced she was murdered. Just three weeks earlier, also in Klang, another trans sex worker was beaten to death. While police have opened investigations into both cases, they hastily determined that the killings were not hate crimes. Rights advocates are skeptical, but as one trans activist put it, “the deceased can’t speak for herself.” Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Malaysia face violence from both state authorities and civilian actors.

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